ENGLAND prop Scott Taylor says Hull FC are “on course” to fulfil all their aims which bodes well for the Challenge Cup semi-final with Leeds Rhinos.
He helped the Airlie Birds dig out a 14-10 win against Huddersfield Giants on Friday night, a first victory in four games for Lee Radford’s side even if it was a stuttering affair.
Their final regular round game secured them a top-four placing – Hull finished third after Wakefield lost 41-16 against St Helens yesterday – and brought relief aplenty as it looked like their recent downturn in form could see them usurped from the top echelons.
“It’s good to be out of that run,” Taylor remarked to The Yorkshire Post.
“At the start of the season, the goals were top-four for the split and defend the trophy so, at the minute, we’re on course for that.
“There had been a few tough losses we’d had – tight ones – and Friday was like a play-off game, too. It felt like that and took it out of us – and Huddersfield have been playing well.
“It was a really good win that meant we’ve cemented the top-four now and got those four home games in the Qualifiers, too.”
With that spot confirmed, Hull will quickly transfer their attention to the defence of their Challenge Cup. They face a Leeds side who sit second but are just three points ahead of them in the table.
Saturday’s all-Yorkshire semi-final at Doncaster’s Keepmoat Stadium promises to be an epic encounter.
Hull beat their derby rivals at the KCOM Stadium earlier in the campaign but fell 10-7 at Headingley in their third successive loss before turning things around against Huddersfield.
“I wouldn’t say revenge is the word but we will be on it,” said Taylor, FC furious they did not win against Rhinos last time with two efforts ruled out.
“We know what it takes to beat them. Obviously, we won hard on Friday against Saints.
“We wanted that top four, played our best 17 available and obviously Leeds have had the luxury of being able to rest a few (at Wigan).
“The boys are confident after that game (versus Huddersfield) and we feel we owe Leeds one after the week before. This is what we wanted; to get on a roll and go into that Leeds game on a high.”
Rhinos were without 14 first-team players when they fell 34-0 at Wigan on Friday but plenty are expected back for this.
They are sure to want Rob Burrow – who retires at the end of this season – and Hull KR-bound Danny McGuire to have one last swansong.
“They will be dangerous but we won’t read anything into that,” insisted Taylor.
“We’ll just analyse them and we know that they have talents right across the pitch, some real assets. There’s Kallum Watkins and Ryan Hall for a start. We need to worry about them and people like Adam Cuthbertson. We’ll be up for it and will start planning on Monday.”
Beverley-born Taylor helped Hull win at Wembley for the first time in their history when they lifted the Cup last season.
“It’s the best feeling ever and if I went back there with Hull it would be brilliant,” said the player, who raised the Cup for Wigan, too, in 2013, ironically against the Black and Whites.
“It’s not just me but I am ultra-competitive and want to try and win everything in the game and as many times as I can.
“With this group of lads I think we can do that and if we get the job done and get to Wembley again it’d be great to return.”
Taylor, 26, has been a revelation for Hull since he joined at the start of last season, going on to earn England honours.
He had some further help in the pack on Friday with the return, after three months injured, of captain Gareth Ellis.
The former Great Britain back-row may now be 36 but clearly demonstrated why he is still such a colossal player.
FC certainly looked better when he was in the side against Salford. Taylor conceded: “It is great to have him back in there.
“He leads us on the pitch and other teams know what a top player he is, too.”
Coach Lee Radford added: “I’m really glad to have Gareth back especially ahead of next week’s game. He put Josh Bowden’s try on a plate for him. When you see and hear some of his hits from the stands, it’s great to watch. Ultimately we strangled them in terms of possession.”