Hull hold no fear for confident Crusaders

Reporter:

Tom Norris

Crusaders chief Brian Noble is confident his side are well-equipped to beat Hull in their own back yard tonight, (8pm).

The KC Stadium has proved something of a fortress for Hull this season with Richard Agar’s men securing nine victories from 11 matches, losing only to the top two teams in Super League, Wigan and Warrington.

However, Crusaders have tasted victory on their travels, coming away from the likes of Leeds, Catalans and Wakefield with the points, and Noble believes his side will be prepared for what Hull have to throw at them.

“It is a great stadium, they have great fans and they get behind their team,” he explained. “We can’t be surprised by that.

“We have been away a lot on our travels recently. We have had the element of home support but we have been on our travels, which is a good thing.

“We have been to France and we have been to south Wales a couple of times and we had the one game at home against Salford. We have a bit more travelling to do
but that shouldn’t phase us, we are used to that, spending time with each other.

“I think the players are really determined. We have done a lot of things, we have led
from the front and finished the game off, we have come from behind a couple of
times, so there is not too much in a game that is surprising at the moment.”

Noble was delighted with the effort and endeavour of his side as they fought-back
from 12-4 down with 10 minutes remaining against Harlequins to claim a fourth
successive Super League victory.

The win moved Crusaders two points ahead of Castleford in the battle for the
remaining play-off place with three matches to play, and Noble is keen to see his
side raise their game further at Hull.

“We had to be tough because I thought Harlequins were really resolute,” admitted the former Bradford coach.

“They didn’t quite put us away and we were still in there and we came up with a couple of sucker punches at the end which saw us over the line.

“We are doing some things really well and obviously there are things we can do a little bit better, which we will need to do this week against Hull.

“We need to kick the ball a bit better I think, other than that there wasn’t too much wrong. It was a wet night, it wasn’t going to be an expansive game, but we were expansive at the right times.

“We just couldn’t establish as much field position as we would have liked on the back of our poor kicking game, that needs to improve for sure.

“We know the nature of our challenges go up each week now. We have put ourselves in a position to finish a lot higher than a number of people thought we would.”

Noble has named an unchanged 19-man squad for the trip to Hull with Vince Mellars and Gareth Thomas again missing out.

Meanwhile, hooker Tommy Lee is delighted to have put his injury nightmare behind him.

Former Hull man Lee endured a tough start to his Crusaders career, with a series of injuries restricting him to just a handful of appearances.

He made his return to the first team during last month’s visit to Huddersfield Giants and is now enjoying a run in the first team

“We’ve won four of the five games since I have been back which has been pretty good,” he said.

“It was a shocking start to my Crusaders career, so its been great to finally have a consistent run in the team. Hopefully I can play a few more games now as we get to the business end of the season.

“Finishing in the top eight would be a massive achievement. We have always believed we could do it as a squad, even if a lot of people in the rugby league world
had written us off.

“We’ve got a team that has stuck together through thick and thin and it is always good when you are playing your best rugby at the end of the season. We’re keeping our feet on the ground but we’re focussed on winning our remaining three games.”

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