The Super 8s kick off this week with a monster match-up between two in-form teams. Are we looking ahead to a potential Grand Final preview here?
LAST TIME OUT
Almost exactly 2 months ago was the last time these two sides met. On that occasion it was Castleford who prevailed with a narrow 16-12 victory.
For a moment it seemed as the Lancashire side were about to do the impossible and beat Cas at the Jungle.
Justin Holbrook’s side led 4-12 at the break when Mark Percival and Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook scored the tries.
However it was not to be as Kieran Gill, Mike McMeeken and Tom Holmes all scored to maintain an unbeaten home run which still stands today.
Out of their last three meetings an interesting pattern is beginning to appear as all three have been won by the home side. Does that give us indication about what will happen this Thursday? Perhaps. Don’t forget, St. Helens have the worst away record out of all the teams in the Super 8s with only three wins from 12.
Despite that 53-10 victory for Castleford in the Challenge Cup, these two teams normally produce very competitive games. With that in mind, composure and discipline are likely to play a crucial role.
St. Helens put on a very impressive performance in their last game against Wakefield where a number of players really stood out. Among them the legendary James Roby was exceptional. His experience is sure to play a massive part in this Super 8s opener. Others like Alex Walmsley, Tommy Makinson and Mark Percival are just a few to look out for.
Cas will also be on the lookout for the dancing feet of Regan Grace. The youngster was particularly impressive in that first half against Wakefield and could trouble the Tigers defence.
Daryl Powell’s side are dangerous wherever you look. While their attack this season has been the envy of the Super League, the league leaders have also been very strong in defence.
Current top try scorer Greg Eden might be out of the picture for this one but Castleford didn’t get this far with the help of one man. People like Luke Gale, Zak Hardaker, JSL and many more have all contributed to this incredible season.
Matty Smith returns to the St. Helens team after recovering from an eye injury. He comes in for Luke Douglas who is currently suffering with a knee problem.
The Tigers have made three changes ahead of this clash with Larne Patrick, Oliver Holmes and Adam Milner all returning.
St. Helens 19 man squad:
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, 16. Luke Thompson, 17. Tommy Lee, 18. Dominique Peyroux, 20. Morgan Knowles, 24. Danny Richardson, 28. Regan Grace, 32. Matty Lees, 36. Zeb Taia.
Castleford Tigers 19 man squad:
1. Zak Hardaker, 2. Greg Minikin, 4. Michael Shenton, 7. Luke Gale, 8. Andy Lynch, 9. Paul McShane, 10. Grant Millington, 11. Oliver Holmes, 12. Mike McMeeken, 13. Adam Milner, 14. Nathan Massey, 15. Jesse Sene-Lefao, 16. Ben Roberts, 18. Matt Cook, 20. Larne Patrick, 21. Joel Monaghan, 23. Tom Holmes, 25. Jy Hitchcox, 34. Alex Foster.