Date: Thursday 2nd October
Venue: Langtree Park
St Helens 19 man squad
2. Tommy Makinson, 3. Jordan Turner, 4. Josh Jones, 5. Adam Swift, 6. Lance Hohaia, 8. Mose Masoe, 9. James Roby, 10. Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook, 11. Sia Soliola, 13. Willie Manu, 14. Anthony Laffranchi, 15. Mark Flanagan, 16. Kyle Amor, 17. Paul Wellens, 18. Alex Walmsley, 22. Mark Percival, 24. Gary Wheeler, 27. Greg Richards, 28. Luke Thompson.
Catalan Dragons 19 man quad
2. Morgan Escaré, 4. Ben Pomeroy, 5. Michael Oldfield, 6. Thomas Bosc, 8. Olivier Elima, 9. Ian Henderson, 10. Jeff Lima, 11. Zeb Taia, 12. Louis Anderson, 13. Greg Mounis, 15. Antoni Maria, 16. Eloi Pelissier, 17. Elliott Whitehead, 18. Daryl Millard, 21. Julian Bousquet, 24. Jason Baitieri, 25. Vincent Duport, 29. Benjamin Garcia, 34. Sam Williams.
Qualifying Play-off – Castleford Tigers (H), W 41-0
Round 27 – Huddersfield Giants (A), L 17-16
Round 26 – Warrington Wolves (H), L 12-39
Round 25 – Leeds Rhinos (A), W 12-13
Round 24 – Wakefield Wildcats (H), W 40-16
Preliminary Semi-Final – Huddersfield (A), W 16-18
Elimination Play-off – Leeds Rhinos (A), W 20-24
Round 27 – Castleford Tigers (H), W 28-6
Round 26 – Hull KR (A), W 14-32
Round 25 – London Broncos (H), W 46-4
Old Trafford is just 80 minutes away for the four teams left in the 2014 Super League Play-Offs and on Thursday night St Helens return to action after their week off to face a Catalan Dragons side on a mission to upset the odds and march on to the Grand Final.
The two go head to head at Langtree Park after St Helens’ owner Eamon McManus announced live on Sky Sports that his side would be picking Catalan in the last ever Club Call.
The week off could do Saints the world of good but the momentum being carried by the Dragons makes them a dangerous side as they go into their first semi-final since 2009 off the back of 5 impressive wins in a row.
Three of those five wins have come on the road which isn’t bad for a side who supposedly can’t travel and St Helens have lost two of their last three as their late season blip has sent them into the play-offs in poor form.
A 41-0 victory over Castleford Tigers in their last game though sent out a resounding message to their rivals that the League Leaders are ready to go all the way and claim a first Super League title since 2006.
Catalans coach Laurent Frayssinous has named an unchanged 19 from their 16-18 victory over Huddersfield while Alex Walmsley returns for St Helens to take the place of Matty Dawson.
Catalan’s story would be a fairy tale if they can make it to Old Trafford after being written off right from the start and adding St Helens to the scalps of Leeds and Huddersfield is a big possibility.
St Helens have looked like Champions for most of the season, bar a mid season blip, so it was a big surprise when they limped over the line to claim the League Leaders Shield. A lot of that was down to the loss of the influential Luke Walsh but they are now just two wins away from winning the league title.
As the penultimate week of Super League is upon us it is now about who can hold their nerve and use the pressure to their advantage.
The Club Call decision from St Helens could put fire in the bellies of the Dragons as they look to win the last ever Club Call. It has come under fire over the years as it motivates the chosen side to the extent that it cancels out the advantage of choosing your opponent.
We should be in for another cracker and come Thursday night we will know one of the Grand Finalists as one of the most exciting seasons in Super League history comes to an end.
Tommy Makinson vs Michael Oldfield
Tommy Makinson would have been proud of Michael Oldfield’s impression of him last week as the Dragons winger dove for the corner like Superman to produce a brilliant finish in their victory over Huddersfield. He has been in brilliant form late in the season and the battle between him and Dream Team winger Makinson will be an interesting one. Both will be looking to show off their impressive finishing skills and could end up scoring a vital try for their side.
James Roby vs Ian Henderson
Steve Prescott Man of Steel nominee James Roby will be looking to lead his side to Old Trafford as the England international continues his brilliant season. Roby is one of the best hookers around and his influence could be the difference between these two sides. Ian Henderson was outstanding in their shock win against the Giants and the former Grand Final winners’ experience could see the Dragons pull off another upset.
Lance Hohaia vs Thomas Bosc
With Luke Walsh sidelined a lot of pressure has been on the shoulders of one of Saints few remaining fit halfbacks Lance Hohaia. He was brilliant against Castleford and he will be looking to lead Saints around the pitch again on Thursday night. Thomas Bosc’s kicking was the difference between the Dragons and the Giants and if they are to reach Old Trafford they will need him to be at his best once again.
Previous Meetings This Season
It’s one apiece in the head to heads this season as Saints won at home 40-22 back in round 5 however they will want to forget the last time the two met as Catalan inflected a 42-0 hammering upon them in France in Round 16. The two results were comfortable wins from either side but this game will prove to be a close contest as they battle it out for a place in the final at Old Trafford.
Catalan have enjoyed a brilliant play-off series and will have the neutrals supporting them however this should prove to be a hurdle too many for them to overcome. Saints will have a big task on their hands but the League Leaders will edge out a close contest. Saints by 8.