Airlie Birds relishing prospect of thwarting city rivals

HULL FC know just how good it will feel to, at last, secure their play-offs spot this evening.

Liam Watts of Hull passes under pressure
Liam Watts of Hull passes under pressure

Winning at the home of their fierce rivals Hull KR will be enough to do that so you can imagine the added incentive.

Ahead of the 226th derby, Liam Watts, Hull’s in-form prop who joined from Rovers in 2012, admitted: “We are looking to cement our top-eight place and there would be no better place to do it.

“If they lose it will be a tough ask for them to get in there themselves, so there is plenty of pressure on them.

“But at the same time there’s a great deal of pressure on us, too, as if we win that’s us sorted.

“We have a decent record playing away at the KC Lightstream Stadium, and it would be nice to go across there and beat them on their own soil once more.”

Confident Hull will have no fear given the last time they met, at Magic Weekend in May, they inflicted an emphatic 46-20 defeat which marked the highest number of points they had scored against Rovers in Super League and also equalled their biggest winning margin between the sides during the summer era.

Of course, FC did fall to their city neighbours 20-6 over Easter but Watts, 25, insisted: “We were still gelling as a team when we lost to KR at the KC (Stadium) earlier in the year.

“Their season is on the line now so they’ll certainly throw a lot at us and we’ll be underdogs but we like that; the win against Castleford proved so.

“We had players dropping out all week and nobody gave us a chance. But we displayed the character that we have got in the team and we showed that we can beat anyone on our day.”

Indeed, Hull defeated a Castleford side chasing the top four on Sunday despite missing a quartet of key forwards.

Two of those – captain Gareth Ellis and Australian Mark Minichiello – return tonight when Leon Pryce, Hull’s former Bradford, St Helens, Catalans and Great Britain stand-off, also plays his 500th career game.

Watts scored six tries in 57 Super League matches for Hull KR following his debut in 2008.

However, the Featherstone-born forward has taken his game to a new level in 2015 to the point where he is being tipped by some to break into the England squad.