SUPER LEAGUE expert Kaine Greenwood gives us his best bet from Thursday night’s action as Hull attempt to tame the Wildcats.
Wakefield Trinity Wildcats v Hull FC | Thursday 20.00 | Sky Sports 1
Put simply, this is a side with nothing to play for against a side with everything to play for.
Wakefield and Hull get the week’s action underway meaning that the visitor’s can put down a marker to both Warrington and Wigan for regaining the number one spot should things go their way over the next two weeks.
Wakefield put up a spirited effort in 14-10 defeat at home to Catalans in a game they quite frankly should have won – but for what Chris Chester described as “dumb” rugby – and they will no doubt be looking to end their home campaign with a positive result for the fans this week.
The hosts close out their 2016 season at the Rapid Solicitors’ with the visit of a Hull side smarting from the defeat by title rivals Wigan in a game they led between the 21st and 77th minutes but failed to close it out and fell to a ninth defeat of the season.
The west side of Hull is now reliant on Wigan repeating the feat and overcoming the league leaders to give them a chance of taking the shield in a match-up with the Wolves next week. First things first, however, and a return to form is what the hierarchy at the KCOM will be after.
The Black and Whites haven’t used the excuse of a Wembley hangover after failing to win in either outing since and, in fairness, fixtures against St. Helens and Wigan aren’t ‘gimmes’ by any means.
Yet this has seen Lee Radford’s drop to second spot on the ladder and surrender a position they have held for over 10 weeks of competition – I guess we will see in the week’s ahead how much it has taken out of the tank.
On the injury front coach Radford has already suffered and will be without forwards Mark Minichiello and Frank Pritchard as they head into this tie so those losses create space for Iafeta Palea’aesina and Curtis Naughton to enter the fray.
Wakefield themselves have only drafted in youngster James Batchelor in favour of Jacob Miller for this clash and it may be the youthful aspect of their line-up that pays dividends in a game such as this.
The Wildcats have yet to record a win in the Super 8s and this is seen by the bookmakers as an unlikely place for that search to come to an end at quotes of around 5/1 slated for the win.
Add in that FC have won the last three of these clashes by margins of 7, 18 and, most recently, by 18 again in round 12 of Super League and you wouldn’t be overly confident of collecting.
The handicap margin at +16.5 deserves more consideration though; a buffer for the home side to ride on and the fearlessness of a young side full of self-belief may have turned some of recent results in a different direction and I’m confident this result will be within such a margin.
Hull have one clear mission: their aim is to the heap the pressure on Warrington’s showdown with Wigan and they do that by simply winning here.
The Airlie Birds have the comfort of knowing they have a far superior points difference to Wigan in third if the Cherry and Whites were to collect two points at the Halliwell-Jones and so they have no need to pile on the points.
It may not be the fashionable view but I don’t see the away side repeating the form they’ve held over the Wakefield side to date this year.
Despite the fact Hull are one of three sides the Wildcats are yet to beat this season the fact that Chester’s tutelage has overseen victories against the majority of the league speaks to the ability of his squad on the right day (the two defeats to Hull sandwiched a run of five wins on the bounce for Wakey) and as long as the hosts stay within a three-converted-score margin there will reason for cheer.
Wakefield v Hull FC – Wakefield +16.5 handicap (5/6 Ladbrokes)