PREVIEW: Salford Red Devils v St Helens.

The sides meet for this weeks’ Thursday Night game. Both teams come into Round 7 with similar peaks in form, sitting next to each other in the League table and with similar attacking and defensive rankings. Salford have won their last two on home turf, whereas Saints have struggled on the road this year.


Last Time Out
Salford have had a bright start to their season, after their perils in 2016, just merely surviving in the top flight; this season is looking much more positive for the Red Devils. They have won four of their seven encounters so far, although their losses could easily have swung the other way, only missing out narrowly. They come off the back of two big wins, one against current league toppers Castleford and most recently a 46-10 thrashing of Widnes. The side is looking steady and threatening.

After their narrow win in the opening round, St Helens found themselves in a sticky patch, losing three in a row against Leigh, Wakefield and Hull. They have, however, managed to find their feet after a convincing win over in Catalans before beating a struggling Warrington side. The struggle for Saints is defence, although they are scoring well, they have some defensive leaks to improve on going forward.
Key Battle
Robert Lui is key for Salford. The half-back is always at the centre of the attacking line for the Red Devils, and always able to sniff out an opportunity for Ian Watson’s men. In Salford’s recent wins, many tries and close efforts have come off the back of some well-worked play from the Salford number 6, and with the experience he has under his belt, will carry on for the season.

For St Helens, Matty Smith is going to be influential. The half-back missed the early stages of the season owing to an injury picked up in pre-season, but made his return last week and showed some real touches of class to inspire a Saints win. The experienced number 7 is a true ring leader on the field and now injury free, will make the difference for St Helens on many occasions this season.

Prediction
Both teams look in good shape and come into the match with some steady form. St Helens are rejuvenated by the return of cool-headed Matty Smith and Salford have a lot of confidence at the moment.
I don’t think either side are going to give their opposition many chances, so it could be a close game, possibly with drop goals needed to seal it.
My head says St Helens by 6, although Salford will put up a huge fight and push it right to the wire.

Who will win this week's Thursday night match?

Squads

Salford Red Devils:  1. Gareth O’Brien, 2. Justin Carney, 3. Josh Jones, 6. Robert Lui, 7. Michael Dobson, 8. Craig Kopczak, 9. Logan Tomkins, 10. George Griffin, 11. Ben Murdoch Masila, 13. Mark Flanagan, 14. Lama Tasi, 16. Olsi Krasniqi, 17. Adam Walne, 20. Kristian Brining, 21. Gregory Johnson, 22. Kris Welham, 23. Lee Mossop, 24. Jake Bibby, 29. Todd Carney.

St Helens:  1. Jonny Lomax, 2. Tommy Makinson, 3. Ryan Morgan, 4. Mark Percival, 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, 20. Morgan Knowles, 21. Jack Owens, 22. Matty Fleming, 36. Zeb Taia.

Game Details
Venue: AJ Bell Stadium
Date: Thursday 30th March 2017
Kick Off: 8pm Live on Sky Sports 2
Referee: James Child