Kick Off: 2000, 10/03/2017
Stadium: KCOM Stadium
TV: Sky Sports 2
The pressure is already mounting on St Helens boss Keiron Cunningham and we reckon he is facing a third straight Super League defeat at Hull on Friday night.
Saints started the season with what looked a satisfactory 6-4 home win over Leeds, but the value of that performance has been let down by both teams since then.
Leigh picked up their first victory back in the top flight when beating Saints 24-16 and there was more misery for Cunningham last week, as Wakefield broke their duck for the year with a 16-12 triumph at Langtree Park.
To be fair, conditions were poor for that latest setback, but St Helens’ problems were all too evident, with the departure of Luke Walsh and pre-season injury to marquee signing Matty Smith leaving them woefully short of leadership in the half-back department.
Alongside the inexperienced Danny Richardson and Theo Fages, Saints are also lacking star quality amongst their outside backs, with only Mark Percival yet to impress this term, while losing rising star Joe Greenwood from the second row to Gold Coast Titans has robbed them of another major strike threat out wide.
Cunningham could not hide his anger after the Wakefield defeat, commenting: “I’m disappointed with the start. We were shocking last week and we started slow again. We lacked a sense of intensity as we couldn’t build momentum and it’s something we have to address and we will have to do something.”
The coach has threatened to ring the changes for the trip to Hull, but it’s hard to see who he can bring in to make a positive difference to this struggling side, which seems short on confidence with the ball in hand.
Hull may be flattered by last week’s 48-8 rout of a weakened Huddersfield outfit beset by injuries, but that result will still have boosted morale and the return of mercurial half-back Albert Kelly gave Lee Radford’s side a much more threatening look going forward.
With scrum-half Marc Sneyd also on top form when bagging a hat-trick of tries at John Smith’s Stadium, the stage is set for another big showing from Hull, who appeal at 91/100 to win by more than eight points.
The battle up front could be tight, but Hull props Scott Taylor and Josh Bowden should be able to more than hold their own, and then the Airlie Birds just look to have too much firepower and tempo for Saints to handle across the rest of the pitch.