It is fair to say that the city of Hull will once again be buzzing with excitement about the clash between Hull Kingston Rovers and Hull FC at MS3 Craven Park on Sunday.
The city’s two clubs have looked massively impressive at times this season, with Rovers overcoming some tough early spells to mount what looks like it will be a successful bid for a spot in the play-offs.
The recent transfer rumours coming out of east Hull would also seem to indicate that Rovers will be a force to be reckoned with again next season. With Nev Costigan and Mick Weyman on their way, as well as Kris Keating, and raids apparently planned for Kyle Amor and Ben Cockayne from Wakefield Wildcats, the loss of Michael Dobson might not prove to be so dramatic as many fans feared.
With so many players at Rovers also set to be playing in their last Hull derby, not least Michael Dobson, the Robins are sure to be well motivated at the weekend. Not least because finishing above their city rivals in the league will give massive bragging rights to all associated with the club, as well as putting a sixth-placed finish within reach.
Hull FC find themselves in a slightly different position, albeit with plenty happening. The club’s reaching the Challenge Cup final is undoubtedly a major achievement, and fans will be desperate to beat the Wembley hoodoo which hangs over the KC Stadium.
While major signings such as Gareth Ellis have struggled with injury, there have been games when the Black and Whites have looked very good indeed. Rumours that coach Peter Gentle could be in line for an exit from the KC have been quashed by Adam Pearson, but KR fans are sure to want to remind the Hull coach about them on Sunday.
Their last outing produced a hammering of Widnes Vikings by 72-10, though, so the Black and Whites will be in confident mood. With their own play-off hopes still in the balance, the supporters will want to make sure they make the short journey back across the River Hull with two points in the bag.
Should Rovers manage to reach a top six spot then it will be a massive achievement for the team and a coach who looked to be on very shaky ground in the early stages of the season. Craig Sandercock has not had it easy this season, and he has answered many of the questions which were being asked of him, especially after that record defeat to Wigan Warriors.
With Hull in with a chance of silverware at Wembley, it looks like both Hull clubs’ fans could be happy at the end of the season. They will also be looking forward to the next campaign.
A revival of the fortunes of the city of Hull has been long awaited. This city is a true hotbed of rugby league, and a return to the days of the early 1980s, when almost every final seemed to feature one or the other, or even both, of the two clubs could be on the way back.
That’s what fans will hope. But first, there is another tasty looking derby to get out of the way.