St Helens and Castleford meet ahead of next week’s semi-finals. Here’s everything you need to know…
Head coach Justin Holbrook has made three changes to his side that beat Warrington last time out, with captain James Roby returning to the side along with Jake Spedding and Matty Costello.
They replace Jonny Lomax, Jon Wilkin and Luke Thompson, who are all rested ahead of a rematch with the Wolves in next Thursday’s play-off semi-final.
St Helens 19-man squad: Makinson, Morgan, Percival, Fages, Roby, Amor, Taia, McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Douglas, Knowles, Peyroux, Richardson, Grace, Lees, Ashworth, Spedding, Barba, Bentley, Costello.
Castleford coach Daryl Powell has made four changes to the side that gained the two points against Wakefield last weekend. There are returns for Joe Wardle, Quentin Laulu-Togaga’e, Jamie Ellis and Lewis Peachey.
Out of the squad go Greg Eden, Mike McMeeken, Junior Moors and Michael Shenton, who are rested before the trip to Wigan for next Friday’s semi-final.
Castleford 19-man squad: Roberts, Minikin, Webster, Ellis, Gale, McShane, Millington, Holmes, Milner, Massey, Sene-Lefao, Wardle, Trueman, Clark, Maher, Clare, Watts, Laulu-Togaga’e, Mata’utia.
St Helens have already comfortably beaten the Tigers three times in 2018. The sides met in round one when Saints put down a marker to the rest of the competition with a 46-6 victory where Ben Barba starred in a Saints masterpiece with Mark Percival grabbing a hat-trick.
They met next in the sixth round of the Challenge Cup in May, where it was the Barba show again in a 36-18 win. The full-back bagged three tries this time in another MOTM performance.
Just two weeks later, the sides faced each other in the league again with Saints getting their hat-trick of Castleford victories for 2018 with a 40-18 victory. This time, it was Jonny Lomax who shone with a hand in several tries as well as adding one himself.
KEY BATTLE – James Roby vs Paul McShane
Both hookers have had stand-out seasons and could also be in the running to win this year’s Man of Steel. They have been influential in their side’s attack and defence this year and have been big misses when not playing.
It wouldn’t be a surprise if both men are called up to the England set-up for the New Zealand tests later in the year but with Daryl Clark and Josh Hodgson also in the fray, will one miss out? With Roby already a seasoned international, it looks like McShane has come through in the era to make that England number 9 shirt his.
THE IMPORTANT DETAILS
Date: Friday 28th September
Venue: Totally Wicked Stadium
Referee: Scott Mikalauskas