Super League play-offs preview: Hull FC v Catalan Dragons
Hull FC host Catalan Dragons at the KC Stadium on Friday as the Super League season enters the elimination stages.
Last Updated: 13/09/13 7:57pm
Prior to their defeat to Saints last time out the Black and Whites amassed five successive victories, giving the hosts momentum going into the first round of play-offs; while the Dragons' recent form has seen them register just two wins in their last five outings.
The hosts enter the crunch encounter boosted by the timely return of captain Gareth Ellis, who has missed the club's last two outings after sustaining a rib injury in the Tetley's Challenge Cup final.
Ellis returns to the 19-man squad in place of Dean Hadley as Hull coach Peter Gentle makes just one change to the side which lost 38-12 to St Helens on the final day of the regular season.
Prop Andy Lynch and centre Ben Crooks will both miss out on the elimination clash through injury, meaning Joe Westerman looks set to occupy the loose forward role while Richard Horne is expected to continue at centre.
"We know we can be better than what we have been and we need to be, but it's good to have Gareth [Ellis] back this week," Gentle told the club's official site.
"Gareth has been terrific for us at training this week, he's been very vocal and he's used to playing in semi-finals, so that's a boost.
Meanwhile, Catalan Dragons coach Laurent Frayssinous makes two changes to the side narrowly defeated by Warrington Wolves last weekend.
Outside back Damien Blanch and prop Olivier Elima both join the travelling party in place of back row Kevin Larroyer and hooker Benjamin Garcia.
The Dragons had been vying for fifth sport in Super League, but consecutive losses to end the regular season meant the French club dropped down to seventh in the table.
Frayssinous' men had the better of the Black and Whites when the sides met in Perpignan but Gentle's troops levelled the score in July with 24-13 Challenge Cup quarter-final victory.
There is little to separate the teams' records this season with the pair both entering the knockout stages with 13 wins, 12 losses and two draws throughout the season to end even on 28 points.
Hull FC: Bowden, T. Briscoe, Crookes, Ellis, Green, Heremaia, Holdsworth, Horne, Houghton, Johnson, Kent, Miller, Pitts, Shaul, Tickle, Watts, Westerman, Whiting, Yeaman.
Catalan Dragons: Webb, Blanch, Pryce, Taia, Bosc, Dureau, Elima, Henderson, Casty, Menzies, Mounis, Pelissier, Bousquet, Fakir, Paea, Duport, Vaccari, Escare, Whitehead.