Castleford Tigers host St Helens at the Mend-A-Hose Jungle just two weeks after a comprehensive 36-18 defeat in the Challenge Cup. Here’s everything you need to know ahead of the clash.
Ben Roberts returns from a four-week long spell out with a calf injury at full-back, with Michael Shenton sliding back into his favoured position in the centres to replace Jake Webster. James Green also comes into the 19-man squad in place of Joe Wardle.
Castleford 19-man squad: Matt Cook, Jamie Ellis, Alex Foster, James Green, Kieran Gill, Jy Hitchcox, Oliver Holmes, Nathan Massey, Mike McMeeken, Paul McShane, Grant Millington, Adam Milner, Greg Minikin, Junior Moors, Ben Roberts, Jesse Sene-Lefao, Michael Shenton, Jake Trueman, Liam Watts.
Kyle Amor comes into the Saints’ squad after a one-match ban ruled him out of the 38-18 victory against Widnes at the Magic Weekend.
St Helens 19-man squad: Jonny Lomax, Tommy Makinson, Ryan Morgan, Mark Percival, Adam Swift, Theo Fages, Matty Smith, James Roby, Kyle Amor, Zeb Taia, Jon Wilkin, Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Luke Douglas, Morgan Knowles, Luke Thompson, Dom Peyroux, Danny Richardson, Regan Grace, Ben Barba.
HEAD TO HEAD
The two sides have already met twice this season, with St Helens getting a comfortable victory on both occasions.
The Saints have won three of the last four against Castleford, while the Tigers have only won three of the 16 games played at home this decade.
Last time out, Ben Barba well and truly stole the show with a hat-trick of tries. In addition, St Helens kept Castleford scoreless for the best part of 50 minutes. Prior to that, Castleford recorded a heart-stopping last-minute 23-22 win in the playoffs last year.
It was a Luke Gale drop goal that separated the sides that day, however the England stand-off remains injured and will play no part in the fixture this time round.
KEY BATTLE – Jake Trueman v Danny Richardson
Although three years separate them, a lot of parallels can be drawn between the two paths of young half-backs Jake Trueman and Danny Richardson.
Both half-backs have shouldered a huge amount of responsibility in guiding their sides around the park and ultimately in driving their team on to a top four finish. Richardson, however, is considerably more experienced in the Super League and has been pivotal in the Saints’ success this year.
On the other hand, with Luke Gale suffering long-term injury, Trueman has had to take on much of the attacking responsibility with a rather unfamiliar pairing of Shenton and Ellis at full-back and stand-off in particular.
Last time out, Trueman provided a sensational performance in their win over Leeds and will need to do similar this time out with Ben Roberts replacing Michael Shenton in the full-back role.
If Castleford are to win this, Trueman’s, and Castleford’s kicking game more generally will need to be exceptional when considering Saints’ back three.
THE IMPORTANT DETAILS
Date: Thursday 24th May
Venue: Mend-A-Hose Jungle
Kick-off: 19:45 BST
Referee: C. Kendall
WHO WILL WIN?