Hull FC captain Gareth Ellis has warned his side they could be at risk of becoming the first scalps for winless London Broncos.
The Airlie Birds host Tony Rea’s side on Easter Monday looking to make an immediate response after Thursday night’s titanic battle with Hull KR which ended in a 21-20 last-minute defeat.
Ellis admits his side spent a terrific amount of energy in that Craven Park epic, the 221st derby of its kind, so London may be sensing some vulnerability.
They have lost all nine games so far but gave Catalan Dragons a fright on Thursday, trailing 28-4 yet scoring three tries in the last 10 minutes to lose just 28-20 and nudge closer to that elusive first win.
“London are playing well and getting better every week,” insisted Ellis.
“They ran Catalan close the other night so it’s going to be a tough one especially given we’re coming in on the back of a very draining game.
“It was a real tough, proper derby match. It was hard work and it’s emotionally draining as well - the atmosphere of the game is massive, the build-up is really big and it means so much to the fans.
“So, London will probably fancy their chances.
“You could see our lads were really disappointed the other night and we haven’t got long to turn it around.
“We’ve only got a few days and then we’re back on Monday.
“We need to pick ourselves up; everyone’s hurting from that and hopefully we’ll respond.”
The hectic Easter schedule has its critics but Ellis, the former England second-row who excelled in the NRL with Wests Tigers, is not one of them.
“Regardless of the result, this weekend is something I actually look forward to,” he explained.
“It is tough but I suppose that’s the challenge as a player.
“I remember going back as a kid and watching (State of) Origin when they’d play Wednesday and then back up on a Friday.
“I always used to think ‘I’d like to give that a go.’
“We get the chance to do that this weekend.”
Hull will be grateful of returning to the KC Stadium; they have won all four Super League games there this season in real contrast to their away form which now reads five losses.
Craven Park was the closest they came to ending that sequence and Ellis was proud of his side’s spirit after they fought back from 20-10 down on the hour mark to draw level heading into the nerve-tingling final stages.
“We made a conscious effort to get behind the posts and look each other in the eye (at 20-10) and say this is where we find a little bit out about ourselves,” said the 32-year-old.
“We could have collapsed there and thought ‘That’s another one gone,’ fallen by the wayside and lost by 20 or 30 points.
“But we spoke about digging in and we did that.
“We fought really hard to get back into the game and were just unfortunate at the death.”
Richard Whiting narrowly missed the conversion to Fetuli Talanoa’s 75th minute try which would have given Hull the lead.
Instead, after Whiting, ironically, charged down Travis Burns’ drop goal attempt, they fell to Craig Hall’s 80th minute one-pointer but Ellis aimed no criticism at his team-mate who is the club’s fourth different goal-kicker already this term.
“It was a tough one for him,” he said.
“He’s probably not a natural kicker but he puts his hand up.
“I certainly wouldn’t want to do it and there’s a few others who have kicked through the year and they’ve fallen by the wayside so fair play to Stilts.
“You can be a hero or obviously a miss but the pressure he put on at the end to stop the (Burns) drop goal was massive so he did really well for us.”