PREVIEW: St Helens v Warrington
With Warrington winning League Leaders and featuring in both the Challenge Cup and Grand Final last season, along with St Helens finishing in a respectable fourth last time around, it seems extraordinary to be describing this as a bottom of the table clash. The two sides from the North-West are typically giants in the Super League, but seem to have hit a slump in 2017 as they have got off to a slow start in their respective campaigns.
St Helens host the Wolves in what promises to be an exciting tie, both teams have an array of talent to take to the field, with a win making a huge difference to either side.
Last Time Out
The home side have had a stalling start to the season. With just two wins from their opening five and a negative point’s difference, things aren’t looking particularly great for Kieron Cunningham’s side in the early stages. After winning their opener against Leeds in a low-scoring battle, Saints hit a wall by losing three consecutive efforts against Leigh, Wakefield and Hull. However, they come into this fixture on the back end of a convincing close-fought win over on French Soil against the Catalans Dragons.
Warrington look to end their heavy drought with a win against Saints. Last years’ League Leaders have got off to a less than wonderful start, having failed to register in a win in any of their five matches. The Wolves did get a commendable victory over Brisbane Broncos in the World Club Challenge but have failed to back up that win with anything similar in the league. The results are showing a negative correlation for the Wolves, with defeats getting heavier each week, so they’ll want to turn this bad form on its head as soon as possible.
Tommy Makinson is going to be a real difference maker for St Helens. He is one of their best attacking options, and is not afraid to push himself to the limit, proved with some exceptional leaping and stretching finishes in recent time. If Saints can use the wide flank, Makinson will take some stopping.
Warrington are without the attacking options of Tom Lineham and Ryan Atkins, both would have been real assets for the visitors. Instead they will look to Matty Russell and returnee Stefan Ratchford to cause the burden on St Helens. Russell will have to take on a more direct and ruthless role is Warrington are to get the much needed win, with the wise head of Ratchford commanding the line.
I feel as though Warrington are due some good fortune, their dry spell is completely out of the ordinary, and surely cannot go on for too much longer. With Saints having a wobble themselves, I think it could be a messy tie with a lot of errors lingering with the pressure of a much needed two points on the line.
The problem for both sides seems to be defence, with attack not really being the problem. So it could be a game with a lot of points scored.
Warrington by 4.
St Helens: 2. Tommy Makinson, 3. Ryan Morgan, 4. Mark Percival, 5. Adam Swift, 6. Theo Fages, 7. Matty Smith, 8. Alex Walmsley, 9. James Roby, 10. Kyle Amor, 12. Jon Wilkin, 13. Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook, 14. Luke Douglas, 15. Adam Walker, 17. Tommy Lee, 18. Dominique Peyroux, 19. Greg Richards, 21. Jack Owens, 23. Jack Ashworth, 36. Zeb Taia.
Warrington Wolves: 1. Stefan Ratchford, 3. Ryhs Evans, 5. Matty Russell, 6. Kevin Brown, 7. Kurt Gidley, 8. Chris Hill, 9. Daryl Clark, 10. Ashton Sims, 12. Jack Hughes, 13. Joe Westerman, 14. Mike Cooper, 15. Brad Dwyer, 17. Dom Crosby, 18. Andre Savelio, 20. Toby King, 23. Joe Philbin, 26. Jack Johnson, 28. Harvey Livett, 24. Ben Westwood.