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Challenge Cup R6: Sheffield Eagles vs Hull FC Preview

25/03/2022

Sheffield Eagles will be aiming for a fifth straight win on Saturday when Mark Aston’s side travel to host Super League opposition Hull FC at Featherstone’s Millennium Stadium.

Sheffield come into the contest following victories over Hunslet Club Parkside, Workington Town, North Wales Crusaders and most recently Whitehaven.

The Eagles' most impressive victory in recent weeks came against Whitehaven last time out. 

Sheffield’s rock-solid defence was only breached once and kept the hosts at bay for 74 minutes after Ryan King’s opening try.

The Eagles added first-half tries through Quentin Laulu-Togage’a, Joel Farrell and Ben Jones-Bishop in a half which saw Haven reduced to 12 men after Guy Graham’s dismissal.

Kris Welham and Matty Chrimes added tries within the first 15 minutes of the second half where Sheffield scored 28 points and kept Whitehaven scoreless.

Laulu-Togage’a finished off a Joel Farrell break for his second on his second debut with the club before late tries from Thackeray and Chrimes took the Sheffield total beyond 40.

Hull FC come into today’s round clash aiming to reach the quarter-final stage of the Betfred Challenge Cup.

Last year's Challenge Cup semi-finalists have started well in 2022 and after six league games, Hull sit 5th in Super League, with four wins and two defeats.

Hull started with a win over Wakefield before a home defeat to reigning champions St Helens.

The Black and Whites comfortably beat Salford before their loss to Castleford but back-to-back wins over Leeds Rhinos and Huddersfield have propped Brett Hodgson’s side up the table, with the target of a third successive win this afternoon.

Today’s visitors enjoyed a narrow victory over Huddersfield Giants last time out.

FC led 6-0 at the break thanks to Mitieli Vulikijapani’s converted opener before Ben McNamara added a penalty goal after the break.

Forward Andre Savelio’s try on 58 minutes was converted by McNamara which gave the hosts a three-score lead.

The Giants did offer a nervy ending for Hull despite going down to 12 men after Will Pryce’s horror tackle; Chris McQueen dived over in the final 10 minutes of the contest.

Key Battle: Kris Welham | Carlos Tuimavave

This weekend’s key battle selection is between the centres Kris Welham and Carlos Tuimavave.

Sheffield’s Welham, a former Hull KR player, has started well in 2022 for Sheffield.

The 35-year-old went over for his third try in six games against Whitehaven and has seen off competition from Ryan Johnson and Connor Bower to become a regular for the Eagles in the opening stage of the season.

Johnson or Bower could be used to give valuable rest to Welham as he enters the latter stages of his career.

Johnson bagged a brace in his only appearance of 2021, the 20-40 victory over Hunslet Club Parkside with Bower having made an impact in his first start of the season last weekend albeit in the unfamiliar position of second-row for the former Doncaster star.

Hull centre Carlos Tuimavave is set to make his long-awaited return to action in this weekend’s last 16 tie.

The 30-year-old has missed the entirety of the early season due to a hamstring injury.

Tuimavave joined Hull in 2016 from NRL side Newcastle Knights and won back-to-back Challenge Cups with the Black and Whites in his first two seasons.

By Lewis Coleman, photo by Alex Coleman