'Slight improvement from Hull FC may be enough to beat Wigan Warriors'

Hull coach Brett Hodgson is confident only a slight improvement in performance will be enough to secure a place in the semi-finals of the Betfred Challenge Cup but Wigan boss Adrian Lam warns he has "something up his sleeve".

Friday, 7th May 2021, 11:01 am
Updated Friday, 7th May 2021, 11:04 am
Hull FC and Wigan faced each other last week

The Black and Whites take on Wigan at Headingley on Saturday in a repeat of last season's quarter-final, just over a week after meeting them in Super League.

Hull were thrashed 36-4 in the cup but only two points separated the teams at the DW Stadium last Thursday with a battling display that encouraged their new boss.

"We weren't good enough in elements to win that game but we did show that we're good enough to put up a fight against those top teams," Hodgson said.

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"Even with our performance, we could have snuck away with a win and that says where we're at.

"We processed the game pretty well. We were close so small improvements this week may give us the chance to get a result this time around."

If it comes down to fine margins and possible unlimited extra time, Hull might have an advantage in drop-goal expert Marc Sneyd yet the half-back says he has stopped practising one-pointers.

Sneyd has kicked 34 drop goals in his career, several of them in golden point extra time, but missed four attempts in the draw with Warrington and was twice off target in a tight contest with Wakefield.

"When I practise them, I can't kick them on the field so I've stopped practising them again, weirdly," said Hull's co-captain.

"I genuinely believe that drop goals are a one-in-10 opportunity. The way you drop the ball and the way you strike it changes every single time because you don't know where defenders are coming from and things like that.

"I do genuinely believe that practising drop goals is a bad thing for when you need to do it in a game situation because you'll never kick it how you want to in a game."

Sneyd will be reunited with his half-back partner Josh Reynolds, who has recovered from a hamstring injury, but Hull are without props Scott Taylor and Brad Fash and Hodgson must find a stop-gap full-back following a one-match ban handed out to Jake Connor.

Hodgson has recalled Connor's understudy Connor Wyne from his loan spell at York but also has the option of switching Josh Griffin to full-back and bringing in Cameron Scott to centre.

Castleford and last year's beaten finalists Salford will both be much changed as they prepare to do battle for the second time in nine days in the second half of Saturday's quarter-final double-header at Headingley.

The Tigers have lost Cheyse Blair and Greg Eden from the team that won 28-18 at the AJ Bell Stadium but have George Griffin, Gareth O'Brien, Dan Smith and Jordan Turner back available.

The Red Devils are without hooker Andy Ackers due to an ankle injury sustained in training but hope to have Elijah Taylor, Ryan Lannon, Pauli Pauli and Dan Sarginson back as coach Richard Marshall looks to turn the tables on Daryl Powell's team.

"We're not going to change too much," Marshall said. "Obviously we'd like to do a better job on their key individuals.

"But let's be honest, we didn't feel there was too much between the two teams. We've just got to compete for the full 80 minutes."

Powell insists last Friday's victory will count for nothing at Headingley.

"Winning the game last week doesn't make any difference at all," he said. "We've got to come up with a performance that is good enough to get us into the semi."