Defensive acumen must improve, says Gentle, as Hull look to douse Dragons’ fire in Perpignan

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Peter Gentle has urged his Hull side to raise their defensive attitude in Perpignan tomorrow and send out a message to the rest of Stobart Super League.

The demanding head coach had more pressing issues with their lack of ball control than resilience during an impressive 20-20 opening day draw with Warrington.

However, the Australian knows they must tighten up further against Catalan Dragons who, like Warrington, are another of the sides expected to mount a challenge this season.

“They are a very good side and we’ll have to improve on our performance from last week to pick up the win,” admitted Gentle.

“They have a real physical pack and some great talent and flair in the backs, so we’ll have to be on our mettle.

“I was very happy with our defence against Warrington but we’ll have to take that to another level and tidy up what we do when we have the ball.

“We cannot afford to hand Catalan cheap possession and territory; we’ll need to be a bit smarter about when we attack and when not to push the ball,” he said.

Catalan, with Dream Team scrum-half Scott Dureau dictating, swept aside Bradford Bulls 34-12 in their first match and could be bolstered tomorrow evening by the return of marquee signing Leon Pryce and France centre Jean-Philippe Baile.

If Hull are to impress themselves on the rest of the competition, though, they know performing at such imposing venues as Stade Gilbert Brutus will be crucial this term.

Improving that smartness with the ball would, undoubtedly, have increased if they could call upon Brett Seymour’s services.

However, it seems likely the former New Zealand Warriors scrum-half must wait a little longer to make his Black and Whites debut as he continues to recover from minor knee surgery.

Gentle, who is also unlikely to risk prop Eamon O’Carroll after his back strain, said: “Brett remains on target for the London game the following week.

“He’ll start running on Monday and that will give him a full week for us to have a good look at him.”

That means inexperienced scrum-half Danny Nicklas, 20, gets a second chance to push his case forward following an encouraging performance against Warrington.