McNamara out to deny old friends their finest hour

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The former Hull favourite Steve McNamara, who rejected the chance to become the club's head coach earlier this year, is hoping to deny his old team their greatest moment tonight.

Hull are 80 minutes away from a maiden Grand Final but standing in their way at the KC Stadium are the defending champions, Bradford, who are coached by one of their favourite sons.

McNamara, a former Hull captain who still lives in the city, was their first choice to succeed John Kear in April but his rebuttal was vindicated when he was promoted into the Bradford job a fortnight later following Brian Noble's unexpected move to Wigan. The 35-year-old has no regrets over his decision but has been delighted to witness Hull's revival under Australian Peter Sharp, whose 10-match winning run included a 28-12 win over the Bulls in May.

"Peter Sharp has made a huge difference," McNamara said. "I have a lot of respect for him both as a coach and as a person. I have a lot of time for him and the rest of the coaching staff, who have done a tremendous job. Collectively, they are very efficient and effective. That's what their strength is: they all complement each other. They are a tenacious side, strong and tough and will take some beating."

St Helens await the winners of tonight's final eliminator after beating Hull 12-8 in the qualifying semi at Knowsley Road last Friday.

Sharp's men shrugged off consecutive defeats to give a fine effort which pushed the Challenge Cup winners, but the coach said they will need to find yet more improvement if they are to make it to Old Trafford.

"We know how hard it's going to be," Sharp said. "Bradford are a quality side and are playing very good football. We know we're going to have to be better than we were last week."

Wakefield have signed two players from their relegated Super League neighbours Castleford. The club, whose win on the last weekend of the season sent Castleford back down to the National League, have signed the former Wigan prop Danny Sculthorpe and winger Waine Pryce.

The 27-year-old Sculthorpe, who has signed a three-year deal, spent the 2006 season at Castleford on loan from Wigan but has been released from the final year of his contract. The younger brother of the Great Britain and Saints captain, Paul is a replacement for front rower Michael Korkidas, who has joined Salford.