The last week of Super League action prior to the break for the Challenge Cup quarter finals begins on Thursday evening when we have a repeat of the semi-final from last season as the Wigan Warriors host Hull FC.
Wigan Warriors won that semi-final before losing to their rivals St Helens in the Grand Final so Hull FC will be out for a bit of revenge here but they will also be wanting to lay down their credentials for a tilt at the title this term.
Where to watch
The match will be shown in full on the Sky Sports Main Event and Sky Sports Arena channels. The programme begins at 7pm with plenty of build up to the match kicking off at 7.45pm.
The Wigan Warriors are unbeaten this season with a full complement of victories to their name but you get the impression that there is still a lot more to come from them and that they might only have scratched the surface for the ability they have shown so far. We are used to Wigan starting out slowly offensively and then winding it up the longer the season goes on and it looks like that method is going to be utilised again this term too.
The only time the Wigan attack has put up more than 30pts in their five league and cup matches this season was against Wakefield who faded pretty fast in the second half of that match. You sense that more work has gone into ensuring they don’t leak too many points rather than how many they get at the other end. To that extent this is a good season as no team has yet scored more than 18 points in a match against them.
Hull FC are also unbeaten for the season but unlike Wigan their perfect record has a blemish on it in terms of the draw that was picked up against the Warrington Wolves. That was certainly no bad result though and in the main this has been an encouraging start for the Black and Whites. Warrington were the only team they have played that you would expect to be in and around the title reckoning come the end of the season though so their work may get much harder here.
The one thing Hull FC have shown in all their matches is a smartness in the middle of the park. They might have the smartest half-back pairing in the league and that pair put them in positions from which to launch attacks as well as keeping opposing teams away from their try line. The other encouraging thing for Hull FC fans this season has been that there looks to be a much stronger consistency in their performances. That is something which will serve them well here.
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The Wigan Warriors will be without half-back Thomas Leuluai for this match as he is out injured. Adrian Lam has brought Sam Halsall into the squad but it could be that Sam Powell moves into the halves in the Kiwi’s place.
Hull FC were forced into a change with Bureta Faraimo suspended after his late hit against Wakefield last week. Josh Bowden is out injured so there are two changes to the squad. Jack Brown comes back from suspension while Harvey Barron could make his debut.
While it isn’t ideal that Bureta Faraimo is suspended for this match I do still think that Hull FC can stay closer to the Wigan Warriors than eight points that they receive on the handicap. I say that for a couple of reasons, the first being that Hull FC have kept a pretty tight defence for the entire season so far, and the second would be that Tommy Leuluai missing out is going to hurt a Wigan attack which hasn’t really exploded into life yet anyway.
Hull FC have been without Josh Reynolds for long enough to work out how they want to play and in Marc Sneyd not only do they have someone to lead them around the park, but they have an excellent goal kicker and in what is likely to be a tight match having that on our side is no bad thing. I’m expecting a really tough match between two sides who have the ability to win the title this year but when the final scores are tallied up I expect to see Hull FC within eight of Wigan.
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