Without doubt, Hull FC have exceeded all expectations this season but Lee Radford’s men are still dreaming of recording a maiden Grand Final triumph.
The Airlie Birds have already lifted the Challenge Cup this year after they showed incredible resilience to secure a comeback victory against the Warrington Wolves.
And now, Hull are hunting a second piece of silverware – and if anyone can defy the odds to go all the way to Old Trafford, it is Hull FC.
They fell short against Warrington on the final weekend of the Super 8s as Tony Smith’s men secured the League Leaders’ Shield from under their noses.
Hull now face a tricky trip to face the Wigan Warriors and Shaun Wane’s men are full of confidence after winning four of their last five Super League fixtures.
As you can see from the video below, the Wigan boss wasn’t exactly amused at his side’s performance after their sole defeat to Widnes during that run.
Right now, you’d have to make Wigan favourites for that contest but Hull will be desperate to triumph as they hunt down a Grand Final spot. Write Radford’s men off at your peril.
Defensively, Hull have been sound for the majority of the campaign but a few mistakes and discrepancies have started to creep into their play in recent weeks. At the time of writing, 32Red Sport are pricing Hull at 4/1 to go on and win the Grand Final this season and plenty of punters will fancy the Airlie Birds to turn their current run of bad form around.
Hull have won just one of their last seven Super League games but they could take plenty of inspiration from their Challenge Cup victory in the coming weeks. In fact, it would be fair to say that Radford’s side took their foot off the gas after pipping Warrington at Wembley but that is of no comfort to the passionate supporters that have travelled all over the country to follow their side.
Danny Houghton and Gareth Ellis have both been nominated on the three-person shortlist for the Super League Man of Steel award – which shows just how dominant Radford’s men have been for the bulk of the season.
Houghton has been simply sublime for the Airlie Birds this year and he could be the difference-maker when Hull travel to Wigan on Friday night; after all, he has been central to their success so far.
As of September 25th, 32Red and 188Bet are offering 15/8 on Hull to beat the Warriors and reach the Grand Final for the first time since 2006. At the time of publication, it is exactly three years to the day since Lee Radford was appointed as Hull FC head coach and the club have come a long way since then.
And with that in mind, this could give Hull the extra impetus to push on and give their boss the best possible birthday present at the end of the week…
The Airlie Birds have faced Wigan three times this season, with two of those encounters taking place at the DW Stadium. Surprisingly, Hull have emerged victorious in both of those contests – and they lost by a single point when they went head-to-head at the KC Stadium earlier this year. However, Wigan did prove their mettle in September’s clash as they picked up a crucial victory in a tight-knit contest.
The omens are certainly on Hull’s side in this sense and Radford will be hoping that his men can take inspiration from those victories earlier in the campaign as they look to make it three wins on the spin against the Warriors.
Last week’s 23-6 defeat to Warrington hurt Hull, but the Airlie Birds must dust themselves off and begin preparing for their crucial clash with Wigan. It’s now a case of ‘all or nothing’ for Radford’s side – win and Hull are in the Grand Final.
Lose, however, and they will have to watch Wigan face Warrington or St Helens for the ultimate prize in English rugby league.
On talent alone, the Warriors just edge it but Hull’s endeavour and desire to succeed could give them the slight advantage on Friday night.