Video - Hull FC v Hull KR: Danny Houghton spurred on to seal derby hat-trick

HULL FC hooker Danny Houghton has been around the city derby long enough to know just what to expect tonight '“ plenty of niggle from desperate Hull KR.

Hull FC's Danny Houghton. Picture: Steve Riding.

The vice-captain, who continues to earn plaudits for his consistently fine displays with the Black and Whites, first came across Rovers as long ago as 2008.

Born and raised in the city, he has made more than 200 appearances for the club since and will, no doubt, be at the heart of the 229th derby this evening.

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Long-time Super League leaders Hull have lost their last two matches after an 11-game unbeaten run and have been usurped at the top by Wigan Warriors.

Hull FC's Danny Houghton. Picture: Steve Riding.

Granted, Lee Radford’s side will return there – perhaps just for 24 hours – if they inflict a third derby defeat of the campaign on Rovers.

When the sides last met at Magic Weekend in May, Hull KR clearly tried to get under their skin and slowed down the pace of the game with a series of minor skirmishes.

Shaun Lunt was also yellow-carded for a dangerous tackle on Liam Watts and, for a period, disruptive tactics proved beneficial as KR led on the hour-mark.

Ultimately, of course, they lost 28-16 as Hull rallied and James Webster’s side now know another defeat tonight will consign them to the ignominy of the Qualifiers.

Hull FC's Danny Houghton. Picture: Steve Riding.

“Obviously, every opportunity they had they slowed the game down and it worked for them for a bit,” recalled Houghton.

“You can’t take that away from them. We just have to make sure we’re right on our game and don’t let little things happen that disrupt us as I think it did at Magic Weekend.

“A little bit of pushing and barging took us off track from what we wanted to achieve.

“I’m sure we’ll learn from that and go into Thursday’s game knowing what’s going to come.

“We need to take the occasion out of it, settle down into our game and make sure we’re performing well rather than just playing an occasion and letting it get us later in the match.”

Would victory be all the more enjoyable knowing it will confirm their neighbours in the bottom four and under the threat of relegation?

“I think it’d be more satisfying for us and more rewarding to get the two points that sends us back to the top of the table,” was Houghton’s diplomatic answer.

“We want to concentrate on doing our job right and I’m sure if we that we’ll have enough to get the two points and put us where we want to be.

“It’s something that’s well publicised; we’ve not been great of late and we’ve talked about that within camp this week – we have to get our performances a lot better than they have been recently.

“We just want to concentrate on what we need to do rather than what lies in store for Hull KR.”

The 27-year-old is correct in his assertion; Hull have to quickly rediscover that earlier form as, aside from wanting to stay apace at the summit, they have the sizeable matter of a Challenge Cup semi-final against Wigan looming, too, at the end of this month.

The return of captain Gareth Ellis should bring them extra steel, ballast and leadership after he missed Friday’s 20-15 home loss to Leeds Rhinos through illness and the Huddersfield Giants defeat previously due to injury.

On those setbacks against the competition’s bottom two, Houghton admitted: “You don’t like to think about it but it was always going to be sooner or later before we lost.

“I think one of the big factors was that both Huddersfield and Leeds performed probably the best they have all year against us.

“We just weren’t at the races at Huddersfield. I didn’t think we were too bad against Leeds but in key periods of the game we did some dumb things which I think we can learn from going into more important rounds.”

Ever-present Houghton has scored eight tries in 23 games and admits this is the best Hull side he has featured in.

“I’d definitely say so and it only goes to show as I can’t even remember the last time when Hull FC were in the semi-finals of the cup and sat top for the majority of the season and second at the moment,” he said.

“We’ve got a really good team, a great team spirit, even those who aren’t playing are really positive and it keeps everyone bouncing.

“We’ve created a little bit of a buzz here and, hopefully, it can continue. There’d be no better way to get back to winning ways than in the derby.”