Opponents: Hull FC
Venue: WIN Stadium, NSW
Tickets: (Probably a little bit too late for that this week…)
A look at the Opposition
Hull FC, the conquerors of Wigan at Wembley and one of the most impressive teams in Super League in 2016 and 2017. A team that must be thinking that they are as close to being able to challenge for Grand Final place this season. The past two years have seen them falter in the Super League Semi-Finals, a consequence perhaps of winning the Challenge Cup.Embed from Getty Images
Hull’s recruitment under Adam Pearson has been nothing but spectacular, they have replaced exceptional players with more exceptional players. Replacing Fonua (he still gives me nightmares) with the equally sized, Faraimo! In fact, a threequarters line of Faraimo, Tuimavave, Griffin and Talanoa could quite easily be a forwards pack!
A 38-12 victory to start the season over Huddersfield is perhaps a close replica of Wigan’s start against Salford. Seemingly a close affair in the first half, with Huddersfield leading, only for the class and/or fitness of Hull FC to shine through towards the end of the game.Embed from Getty Images
Hull look like they will be there or thereabouts again when the silverware is given out at the end of the season and Saturday should be an indicator of how much or if Wigan have improved from 2017 against a team they only beat once and suffered three defeats to in 2017.
Sean O’Loughlin and Joe Burgess replace Gabe Hamlin and Liam Forsyth in the 19 man squad. There is a real competition for places this week, with two of last weeks 17 man squad likely to miss out.
Hull FC 19 Man Squad
01. Jamie Shaul
02. Bureta Faraimo
04. Josh Griffin
05. Fetuli Talanoa
06. Albert Kelly
07. Marc Sneyd
08. Scott Taylor
09. Danny Houghton
10. Liam Watts
11. Dean Hadley
12. Mark Minichiello
13. Josh Bowden
14. Jake Connor
16. Jordan Abdull
17. Danny Washbrook
21. Sika Manu
23. Mickey Paea
29. Masimbaashe Matongo
“Liam Watts returns to the 19 man squad having missed Thursday’s victory over Huddersfield Giants.
The prop forward could make his first appearance of the season against the Warriors on Saturday. He’s the only change to Radford’s 19-man squad, replacing fellow front-rower Brad Fash.
Mickey Paea is also set to return to his former stomping ground as Hull FC face the Warriors at WIN Stadium in Wollongong where Paea spent a season with St George Illawarra Dragons.”
Thoughts on the Game
Be Part of History! That is the slogan that underpins the first Super League game outside of Europe on Saturday and what a game this could be. The inaugural Kenny-Stirling Trophy is also at grabs for the winner, not quite the Challenge Cup this time. Wigan showed against Salford, particularly in the second half, a tendency to move the ball more than perhaps they did in 2017. Hull, with class all over the field and the maestro in Albert Kelly – always entertaining.Embed from Getty Images
The evening game in Wollongong is likely to be played in temperatures of around 25 degrees and on a hard track. Fitness in the second game of the season is going to be crucial and the interchange period will probably be the deciding factor in this game.
The hard track will mean that the backs have an opportunity to express themselves and influence the game and with battles such as Tomkins v Shaul and Williams v Kelly – this could be a spectacle not to miss!
Both teams looked to have similar opening games in Round 1, close affairs for the first 40 minutes with Hull and Wigan running away in the second half. The conditions on Saturday may ensure that neither side runs away with it but that the winner on Saturday will be the side that manages their possession of the football and is the most clinical with their opportunities.
I expect Wigan to build on the fluid attacking display from last week and to make the most of the preferable conditions that they will be faced with on Saturday. The switch of Escare and Tomkins, worked well last week and I expect that to flourish even more, with another week’s training under their belt.
I am going to go for Wigan to edge it, in a game that will showcase the best of Super League.Embed from Getty Images
Looking at the 19 man squad, my Wigan line up for Friday would be:
I/C. T. Tautai
I/C. R. Sutton
I/C. F. Nuuausala
I/C. M. Escare
The Wigan Rugby Blog predicts:
Score: Wigan 22 – 16 Hull
First Try Scorer: Sam Tomkins
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