Warrington take on League Leaders’ Shield winners St Helens. Here’s everything you need to know…
Steve Price has named a number of changes to the side that lost to Wigan 26-6 last week. The half-back combination of Tyrone Roberts and Kevin Brown return to the side after being rested last week. Ben Murdoch-Masila and Chris Hill also return to Warrington’s 19-man side after recovering from their respective injuries. Mike Cooper is available for selection after serving his suspension against Wigan, while Luis Johnson remains in the 19-man squad after a stellar senior debut performance.
Daryl Clark and Jack Hughes have been rested for this week as play-off preparations continue, while Pat Moran isn’t in the 19-man squad despite being named last week and Sitaleki Akauola remains injured with a sternum injury.
However, the biggest problem is regarding Warrington’s joint-top try scorer Tom Lineham. Lineham was sin-binned for a high tackle against Wigan and after a review by the disciplinary panel, he was given a three-match ban, meaning that he will miss both remaining Super 8s fixtures and the semi-final. He’s going to be difficult to replace with Mitch Brown and Jack Johnson both injured, meaning that Bryson Goodwin may play on the left wing.
Warrington 19-man squad: Ratchford, Goodwin, Atkins, K. Brown, Roberts, Hill, Cooper, Murdoch-Masila, Patton, Philbin, T. King, G. King, Livett, Smith, L. Johnson, Charnley, Pomeroy, Thompson, Westwood.
Holbrook has named three changes to the side that defeated an off-form Hull FC side 38-12 to lift the League Leaders’ Shield last week.
Ryan Morgan, Louis McCarthy-Scarsbrook and Dominique Peyroux all return to the side after recovering from their injuries, and take the places of youngsters Aaron Smith, Matty Costello and Jack Welsby.
Saints do have a few injuries at the moment including Adam Swift and Alex Walmsley, who will be out for the rest of the season. Crucially, they will again be without their experienced hooker, James Roby, who is one of the main contenders for this year’s Man of Steel.
St Helens 19-man squad: Lomax, Makinson, Morgan, Percival, Fages, Amor, Taia, Wilkin, McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Douglas, Knowles, Thompson, Peyroux, Richardson, Grace, Lees, Ashworth, Barba, Bentley.
This is the third meeting of the season between the two sides, with Saints winning both games in the regular season..
Warrington took on St Helens in Round 5 and after a evenly-fought first half (6-8), it was Saints that won 30-12 in the end. Toby King and Harvey Livett got the tries for Warrington while Mark Percival, Roby and Danny Richardson got the five Saints’ tries.
The return fixture came about in the final round of the regular season. This time, the match was well contested between both sides and despite Warrington leading 8-0 at half-time, Saints came away with the points after a Richardson penalty from inside his own half in the dying seconds gave them a 14-12 victory.
St Helens have won eight of their ten visits to the Halliwell Jones Stadium and are looking to get another one this Saturday.
This match is likely to be a curtain raiser for a semi-final play-off between the sides in two weeks, so a win for either side will help gain momentum and confidence as we head into the crucial stage of the season.
KEY BATTLE – Josh Charnley vs Regan Grace
As both hookers are not named in their respective 19-man squads this weekend, this game could come down to the wingers, particularly Josh Charnley and Regan Grace.
Josh Charnley has been arguably one of the best signings in the past decade for Warrington. After playing his first game in Round 8 against Widnes, Charnley has scored a staggering 24 tries (15 in Super League and 9 in Challenge Cup) with some being favourites for try of the season. Charnley already had the Rugby League experience previously with Wigan Warriors and as a former England international, St Helens should have him marked as a ‘danger man’ for this fixture.
Since joining Warrington, Charnley has made almost 2500 metres with an average gain of 9.05 metres, making him nearly impossible to stop at full acceleration.
Charnley’s opposite number is likely to be Regan Grace, who, after a solid breakthrough campaign, has only got better this season. Throughout the year Grace has gone over the line an impressive 17 times in total (14 in Super League, 3 in Challenge Cup), and he exploits his pace to make punishing runs along Saints’ left edge.
Alike with Charnley, Grace is rapid and is also impossible to stop when he gets going. He has 2364 metres made in Super League alone and with a 7.88 average gain, so Warrington are going to need to watch out for him should he play.
THE IMPORTANT DETAILS
Date: Saturday 22nd September
Venue: Halliwell Jones Stadium
Referee: Chris Kendall