St. Helens take on the Catalans Dragons in the first game of the Challenge Cup double-header at the University of Bolton Stadium. Here’s everything you need to know…
Saints have been forced into two changes to their 19-man squad as Dom Peyroux and Ryan Morgan are ruled out through injury, with Peyroux likely to miss most of the Super 8s after breaking his arm.
Matty Smith and Matty Costello have been recalled into the squad following last week’s last-gasp victory over the Warrington Wolves.
St. Helens 19-man squad: Lomax, Makinson, Percival, Swift, Fages, Smith, Roby, Amor, Taia, Wilkin, McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Douglas, Knowles, Thompson, Richardson, Grace, Lees, Barba, Costello.
Steve McNamara has recalled several first-team players rested for last week’s close defeat at the hands of Wigan Warriors while Greg Bird misses out through suspension.
David Mead, Remi Casty, Ben Garcia, Mika Simon, Lewis Tierney, Benjamin Jullien and Josh Drinkwater all return to the squad.
Catalans 19-man squad: Mead, Wiliame, Yaha, Langi, Casty, Moa, Anderson, Garcia, Bousquet, Simon, Baitieri, McIlorum, Tierney, Jullien, Albert, Gigot, Goudemand, Drinkwater, Edwards.
HEAD TO HEAD
St. Helens go into this game as the favourite following their exploits in the regular season, while recent history between the two sides does little to suggest otherwise.
Saints have won five of the last six meetings between the two sides including a home and away double this season. The two sides met in the 2007 Challenge Cup Final which saw the French side humbled 30-8.
Yet after the mid-season revival of the Dragons Steve McNamara’s side have become a dangerous outfit to play and a cup upset is not beyond them.
KEY BATTLE- Danny Richardson v Josh Drinkwater
A battle between two of Super League’s most impressive half-backs, whichever player can take control of the game could well book his side’s place in the Challenge Cup Final.
Josh Drinkwater’s arrival at the club sparked an upturn in fortunes for the French side as his impressive kicking game sets the tone for the fireworks of Tony Gigot and David Mead.
Danny Richardson proved his worth to St. Helens last week showing impeccable composure to convert a 50m penalty after the hooter to snatch victory over Warrington.
Both these players are capable of producing magic, yet their control of the game and ability to bring in the stars of the team could provide the match-winning moment.
THE IMPORTANT DETAILS
Date: Sunday 5th August
Venue: University of Bolton Stadium
Referee: Robert Hicks
Follow us on Twitter for live updates on both matches on Sunday.
WHO WILL WIN?