Huddersfield Giants welcome last season’s League Leaders’ Shield winners St Helens to the John Smith’s Stadium, hoping to get their second win of the season, having beaten champions Wigan last time out.
TEAM FORM GUIDE
After a dreadful start to the campaign losing all four opening matches, Huddersfield put in a tremendous performance to beat Wigan 6-14 at the DW Stadium last week.
Tries from Kruise Leeming and Joe Wardle ensured that the Giants travelled back to Yorkshire with their first two points of the season.
After dominating the regular season last year, Saints have started in ominous fashion once more, winning all five matches so far.
The five-try performance and clean sheet at home to London Broncos last week may not have been much in way of a contest, but it highlights their incredible ability to control games from start to finish.
Huddersfield will be without Aaron Murphy for the visit of St Helens. The second-rower picked up an injury in last week’s triumph over Wigan.
Forward Matty English comes back into the squad having missed the win over Wigan in the previous fixture.
Huddersfield Giants 19-man squad: McIntosh, McGillvary, Turner, Uate, Gaskell, Frawley, Leeming, Matagi, Mellor, Lawrence, Roberts, Ta’ai, English, Jake Wardle, Roche, Ikahihifo, Hewitt, Senior, Joe Wardle.
Aaron Smith maintains his place in the 19-man squad. The hooker was in impressive form in the win over London Broncos last time out.
Winger Regan Grace, who this week signed a new contract until the end of the 2021 season, is expected to be a figurehead in the starting line-up.
St. Helens 19-man squad: Lomax, Makinson, Naiqama, Percival, Grace, Fages, Walmsley, Roby, Thompson, Taia, Paulo, McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Knowles, Amor, Peyroux, Lees, Ashworth, Smith, Coote.
HEAD TO HEAD
Last season saw a real battle between these two sides, with both beating the other away from home.
First, Saints emerged from the John Smith’s with a comfortable 12-26 win, which ensured they remained the front runners in the early stages of last season.
But then in the reverse fixture in August, the Giants rocked up to the Totally Wicked Stadium to inflict only Saints’ second home defeat of the season in a brilliant 12-16 win, which was largely down to Darnell McIntosh’s brace.
Kruise Leeming (Huddersfield Giants) vs James Roby (St. Helens)
Although both sides like to play open, expansive rugby, their attacking prowess starts from deep within the field.
Roby has been Saints’ go-to man for as long as many fans can remember. His determination, handling and vision are just a few attributes in his locker. But Huddersfield have their own man in the centre in Leeming and the 23-year-old is regarded by some to be a potential replacement for Roby when (or if) he eventually retires; for both club and country.
The battle out wide between Jermaine McGillvary and Regan Grace will be an important one, but possession of the ball and source of attacks will be even more crucial. The game may well be decided by these two.
THE IMPORTANT DETAILS
Date: Thursday 14th March
Venue: John Smith’s Stadium
Referee: Scott Mikalauskas
WHO WILL WIN?
No one saw Huddersfield’s victory over Wigan coming last week, so they will be brimming with confidence to cause another upset and end Saints’ unbeaten start to the season. With draws now a thing of the past in Super League and the last meeting between the two clubs being so close, we could see a second golden-point match of the season here. I’m going for a Giants win, 17-16.