Super League: Hull FC v St Helens preview
Last Updated: 31/07/14 11:03am
St Helens will bid to move one step closer to securing the Super League’s League Leaders’ Shield when they travel to the KC Stadium to face Hull FC on Friday.
Nathan Brown’s Saints currently hold a two-point advantage over second-placed Leeds Rhinos with five rounds of action to play in the regular season; their opposition meanwhile are languishing in 12th with just seven wins to their name.
While members of the chasing pack have faltered in recent weeks, St Helens have maintained the pace with a sequence of three victories, the most recent of which saw them smash Widnes 44-22 last Friday.
Meanwhile, the Airlie Birds enter Round 23 on the back of an 18-18 stalemate against Castleford meaning Lee Radford’s men are winless in their last six Super League outings.
Saints prevailed in the reverse fixture at Langtree Park in February and have not been beaten by Hull since March 2012, although they did hold the three-time champions to a draw in June 2012 and February 2013.
Ahead of the Saints’ arrival Hull coach Radford has made two changes to the squad which held the Tigers last time out.
Injuries continue to take their toll at the KC Stadium with Jordan Rankin joining a growing injury list after sustaining a torn meniscus in the draw.
There is a boost for the hosts however, with experienced half-back Richard Horne making a welcome return from his own injury and will join forces with youngster Jordan Abdull, who overcame concussion to retain his place.
Aaron Heremaia returns to Radford’s 19-man squad after being called up late for the Tigers match in place of hooker James Cunningham.
Former FC full-back Shannon McDonnell could face his former team-mates after being named in Brown’s 19-man squad for the first time this season.
The Australian flyer gets the nod as one of three changes to the Saints squad, with Greg Richards and Luke Thompson also making comebacks.
Saints face their first outing without half-back Luke Walsh after he underwent surgery on a broken leg following the victory over the Vikings in Round 22.
Hull FC: Abdull, Bowden, Ellis, Green, Hadley, Heremaia, Horne, Houghton, Lineham, Paea, Paleaaesina, Sa, Shaul, Talanoa, Thompson, Watts, Westerman, Whiting, Yeaman.
St Helens: Makinson, Turner, Jones, Masoe, Roby, McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Soliola, Manu, Laffranchi, Flanagan, Amor, Wellens, Walmsley, Percival, Wheeler, Dawson, Richards, Thompson, McDonnell.