On Friday night at John Smith’s Stadium, ladder-leading St Helens will take on Huddersfield Giants.
TEAM FORM GUIDE
Mixed fortunes for the Giants in their opening two matches. Despite a good first forty in their opening fixture against Hull FC, they ended up on the receiving end of a 38-12 loss. They would bounce back a week later when they hosted the Wolves, running out 20-6 winners.
It’s two wins from two for Justin Holbrook’s St Helens. Their opening round thrashing of Castleford Tigers was highlighted by the wonderful efforts of Ben Barba. A trip to the south of France could have ended in disaster with the dismissal of Morgan Knowles, however the Saints held on to win 21-12.
In a boost for the club, Jermaine McGillvary will make his first appearance for the season. The Giants have a forced change through an ankle injury to Tyler Dickinson. His replacement is former Salford Red Devils forward Adam Walne.
With the suspension of Morgan Knowles for four matches, Matty Lees is set to make his Super League debut for the club..
St Helens will go in as favourites against Huddersfield on Friday night. There’s plenty of class all over the park with Ben Barba’s early season form catching the eye of his former coach, Shane Flanagan at Cronulla, saying that he’d be more than happy to see the fullback return to the Shire. With already five try assists in the first two games, he is one player the Giants will need to shut down.
The question remains how the Giants will break down the Saints defence, led by their number 9 James Roby? It could come down to the experience of Danny Brough with a wealth of experience to give the home side a shot. There’s no doubt that if the ball can get out wide to the flanks that Huddersfield have the ability to stay in the contest. Jermaine McGillvary’s return is a huge boost, coming off the back of an exceptional Rugby League World Cup competition in Australia and New Zealand.
“They have strong runners as well as Ryan Hinchliffe at loose forward and Jake Mamo plays with a lot energy too. They are a well-balanced side.”, Justin Holbrook told the Saints RLFC website in the lead-up to Friday night’s clash.
Last time these two sides met at John Smith’s Stadium it was a different St Helens side, starting a new era without Keiron Cunningham that went down to Huddersfield by 24-16.
Despite St Helens dominance against Huddersfield, the screws have turned over the last few years. Since 2011 there’s been eight clashes between these two sides at Huddersfield with the home side winning on five occasions.
Giants (from): 1. Jake Mamo, 2. Jermaine McGillvary, 4. Jordan Turner, 5. Aaron Murphy, 6. Lee Gaskell, 7. Danny Brough, 8. Seb Ikahihifo, 9. Kruise Leeming, 13. Ryan Hinchcliffe, 14. Dale Ferguson, 15. Jordan Rankin, 16. Oliver Roberts, 17. Ukuma Ta Ai, 18. Paul Clough, 19. Daniel Smith, 20. Adam Walne, 21. Adam O’Brien, 23. Darnell McIntosh, 25. Colton Roche.
Saints (from): 1. Jonny Lomax, 2. Tommy Makinson, 4. Mark Percival, 5. Adam Swift, 6. Theo Fages, 7. Matty Smith, 8. Alex Walmsley, 9. James Roby, 10. Kyle Amor, 11. Zeb Taia, 12. Jon Wilkin, 13. Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook, 14. Luke Douglas, 16. Luke Thompson, 17. Dom Peyroux, 18. Danny Richardson, 19. Regan Grace, 20. Matty Lees, 23. Ben Barba.
THE IMPORTANT DETAILS
Date: Friday, February 23 2018
Venue: John Smith’s Stadium
Kick-off: 7:45pm GMT
WHO WILL WIN?