Saints get ready to face the great enigma of Super League

James Bentley. Picture: SWPix
James Bentley. Picture: SWPix
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Saints come face-to-face with a sporting enigma tomorrow night (Friday).


How else can you describe Hull FC, who currently lie third in the Betfred Super League table, but have conceded more points than they have scored in 20 matches to date and suffered eight defeats in the process?

Like Saints, they are also vying for a spot in the final of the Coral Challenge Cup next month and with key players, such as Gareth Ellis, back in the fold following a long-term injury, the fans can expect a Humber-dinger of an encounter which could possibly be a dress rehearsal for the Wembley showpiece.

More important to table-toppers Saints at this stage of the season, however, is the two league points on offer and while they face a tough examination, they go into the fixture with a better head-to-head record than the Airlie Birds since September 2016.

James Bentley is hoping to maintain his 100 per cent record as a St Helens player when the Super League leaders take on third-placed Hull at the KCOM Stadium on Friday night.

The 22-year-old utility player has made 10 appearances in Super League since joining Saints from Bradford two years ago and has won the lot.

Bentley has played mostly in the second row but he will fill the role of a makeshift hooker on Friday after Aaron Smith joined skipper James Roby on the injury list and is ready to put his unbeaten record on the line against Hull captain Danny Houghton.

"My mum and dad were saying the other day I have never actually lost for Saints and it is mad really, a bit surreal," Bentley told Saints TV.

"I am looking forward to going head to head with Danny Houghton, challenging myself and testing myself."

Hull are hoping to become only the third team to defeat St Helens this year as they seek to make amends for a 62-16 hammering at the Totally Wicked Stadium on Easter Monday.

Hull vice-captain Scott Taylor admits the contest is likely to be determined up front, where he will do battle with his England front-row rivals Adam Walmsley and Luke Thompson.

"My job as one of the leading players in the pack is to make sure I do a good job in keeping the opposition pack as quiet as I can," Taylor said.

"The forwards have been really good for St Helens so far this season. Luke Thompson and Alex Walmsley have been really strong and Matty Lees has been showing some good signs, too.

"It's going to be a good test for us as a team and it's going to be a strong test for me as an individual to make sure I can limit their go-forward in the middle of the park."

Second rower Sika Manu is set to make his 100th appearance for the Black and Whites while former Hull half-back Jordan Rankin is poised to bring up a century of Super League appearances in Castleford's home derby with Leeds on Friday.

LAST 10 MEETINGS

St Helens 62, Hull FC 16 (SLR12, 22/4/19)

St Helens 38, Hull FC 12 (SLS8-R5, 14/9/18)

Hull FC 18, St Helens 34 (SLR21, 13/7/18)

St Helens 25, Hull FC 22 (CCQF, 3/6/18)

St Helens 26, Hull FC 12 (SLR10, 6/4/18)

St Helens 6, Hull FC 8 (SLS8-R2, 11/8/17)

St Helens 19, Hull FC 12 (SLR21, 7/7/17)

Hull FC 0, St Helens 45 (SLR14, 20/5/17)

(at St James' Park, Newcastle)

Hull FC 24, St Helens 14 (SLR4, 10/3/17)

St Helens 31, Hull FC 10 (SLS8-R4, 2/9/16)

Super League summary

Hull FC won 17

St Helens won 33 (includes win in 2006 Grand Final & wins in 2001 and
2006 play-offs)

3 draws

Hull FC highest score: 44-6 (H, 2005) (also widest margin)

St Helens highest score: 74-16 (H, 1999) (also widest margin)

ADAM Swift, drafted into Saints' squad for the trip to Hull on Friday in place of the injured Aaron Smith, needs two tries to reach 100 for his career - 86 for St Helens (2012-2019), 2 for Leigh Centurions (2019, dual-registration), 3 for Sheffield Eagles (2018, dual-registration), 4 for Rochdale Hornets (2013-2014, dual-registration) 3 for Whitehaven (2013, dual-registration)

It would be appropriate if the winger reaches this milestone against the club he will be joining at the end of the season, unless you are a Hull fan!