VICTORY in tonight’s derby would ensure Hull finish the regular Betfred Super League season in fifth place and coach Lee Radford believes that would be a creditable achievement.
Hull have been ravaged by injuries all year and Radford is convinced his team would have been in the top-four and challenging leaders St Helens if he had a full squad from which to choose.
Last year’s semi-finalists are seven points behind fourth-placed Castleford Tigers and only one ahead of the teams from sixth to eighth, but a defiant Radford claimed: “I think it is an absolute credit where we are.”
He added: “If we finish fifth after 23 rounds with 11 of my first-choice 17 not being available for 55 per cent of the season, I think that’s [worth] a pat on the back.”
Radford admits “pride” is the main thing Hull have to play for over their final eight games, but this evening is an opportunity to get back on the horse after week’s embarrassing 72-10 drubbing at Wakefield Trinity.
“Everybody was in shock, myself included,” he said of the start of this week. “Tuesday I would say the same, we had a day off Wednesday and at the team run [yesterday] they were bouncing.
“Taking that energy into [tonight] is important, but having said that last week was one of the best weeks we’ve put together this season in terms of training.”
Hull conceded 12 tries in the defeat at Belle Vue and were 72-0 behind before they got points on the board with 15 minutes left.
Radford admitted: “I’ve been involved in a couple of those in my playing career where it smacks you in the face and you don’t see it coming.”
Rivals Hull KR will finish 10th whatever happens tonight, but coach Tim Sheens is looking for a solid performance to raise spirits for their battle against relegation in the Qualifiers.
Last week’s home defeat by Warrington Wolves ended a four-game unbeaten run. Sheens said: “I’m happy with certain things, but our penalty count and completion rate worry me.”
The Robins have strengthened the club’s outside backs for the Super 8’s Qualifiers with the capture of Leigh duo Craig Hall and Ben Crooks on contracts for the rest of the season, with Robins trio Will Dagger, Josh Johnson and Jordan Walne heading on loan in the opposite direction.