KAINE GREENWOOD (@RetroPress) know his Rugby League onions and has consistently delivered the betting goods since joining the WLB team. Here he shares his thoughts on Friday night’s clash between Hull and Wakefield.
Hull FC v Wakefield Wildcats | Friday 20.00
There’s rarely a quiet week in rugby league but it seems that both these sides have had reason to hit the headlines this week.
The Black and Whites’ players booted out the club’s own coaching staff after their display at Widnes, something with head coach Lee Radford admitted had “never happened before in my career”.
Wakefield have, on the other hand, taken more of a normal approach in letting staff enter. Of course, the reason for the West Yorkshire side appointing former Hull KR boss Chris Chester – along with Batley boss John Kear as Director of Rugby from next season – was far from positive after just one win in six saw Brian Smith walk away from the challenge.
Chester comes into the role as Wildcats’ coach fully aware of the task ahead however having grown up in the city and been a season-ticket holder in his youth, yet will have a tough match-up against former cross-city rivals Hull FC first up.
The handicap offered across the industry appears to reflect some of the sorry displays seen by Wildcats supporters so far this season and first on the agenda for the new man will surely be how to plug the defence: 196 points have been given up, following on from 2015 where 929 points were conceded at an average of 40.39 per-game.
However, on the last nine occasions these two have sized up the Airlie Birds failed to cover the suggested -22 margin and have actually been defeated four times along with a 20-20 draw in June 2014.
That 4-1-4 record for both sides would perhaps suggest that all hope is not lost and, as we often see, a new approach may spark old successful practices.
Sadly, the first game of the new regime will see Trinity without two key strike players in Reece Lyne and Ben Jones-Bishop through injury, hampering their ability to post points. Already the league’s second-worst tryscorers, taking Wakefield +22 doesn’t quite take the interest.
Hull also have their own loss to contend with as confirmation came that playmaker Leon Pryce will miss a further 2-3 weeks with his knee complaint. Off-season signing Mahe Fonua also remains out after missing all but the opening two rounds. Without the influence of Pryce, FC will have to call on youngster Jordan Abdull to produce performances alongside half-back partner Marc Sneyd.
One quirky stat is that Lee Radford’s side currently hold a 2-2-12 record when Abdull has started in the XIII. It might therefore be that Radford looks to ease the pressure there and have the forward-based attack of his side play more into the hands of the elusive Jamie Shaul.
Shaul is FC’s leading tryscorer for the campaign and will be looking to excerpt his influence again after two games without reaching over line.
The former brick-layer has built on the promise of under-20 displays in his teens and over the last three years finally established himself as first-call in the binary hoops of the #1 shirt.
Shaul’s impact this season has seen the collection of two man-of-match awards from the League Express and extends on similar impressive form over the last two seasons – 2014 actually saw him finish as top team tryscorer with 16.
I have no idea if somebody at William Hill has fat fingers but they swiftly moved a 6/5 price on a try into 4/7! A best-price 4/6 is now available at Skybet for Shaul to cross alone. It is still a likely winner but a 4/1 offering on Shaul and Tom Johnstone of Wakefield to score takes preference.
German-born Johnstone came into the fold at the Rapid Solictors Stadium with nine tries in 10 appearances over 2015 and although yet to add to that tally in five outings in 2016, he is certain to get purring soon enough. Considering other attacking injuries he is likely to be in the action even more.
Hull FC v Wakefield Wildcats – Jamie Shaul and Tom Johnstone both to score a try (4/1 Skybet)
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