It’s 1st vs 2nd. It’s the league’s best attack against the league’s best defence and it’s been billed as war. St Helens take on Warrington in a mouth watering clash. Here’s everything you need to know.
TEAM FORM GUIDE
St Helens had won eight out of their opening eight matches and were sitting at the top of the league until they were defeated by Catalans Dragons 18-10 last weekend.
It was Warrington who leapfrogged Saints last weekend in the table as a comfortable victory over London last week ensured they were at the top on points difference. That win also meant they have won their last five.
St Helens make just one change from last week’s squad, with Louis McCarthy-Scarsbrook, who missed last week’s game due to his wife giving birth, replacing Jack Welsby.
Jonny Lomax missed last week’s game due to illness but he is named in the squad so is likely to partner Danny Richardson in the halves.
St Helens 19-man squad: Lomax, Makinson, Naqaima, Percival, Grace, Richardson, Walmsley, Roby, Thompson, Taia, Paulo, McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Knowles, Amor, Peyroux, Lees, Ashworth, Smith, Coote.
Despite Justin Holbrook’s best efforts to get him rested, Steve Price has named Blake Austin in his 19 man squad.
Warrington also make one change to their squad, with co-captain Jack Hughes returning in place of Sitaleki Akauola after he was rested last week.
Warrington 19-man squad: Ratchford, Lineham, Atkins, Charnley, Austin, Hill, Clark, Cooper, Currie, Hughes, Murdoch-Masila, Clark, Patton, Tasi , Philbin, King, Livett, Walker, Davis.
HEAD TO HEAD
It was 3-0 to Saints in terms of results in the regular season last year. It’s Warrington who currently have the bragging rights after they beat St Helens 18-13 in the play-off semi final, which left Saints without a major trophy despite dominating the majority of the season.
Danny Richardson (St Helens) v Blake Austin (Warrington)
How these two perform will have a massive bearing on the game. Danny Richardson made his first appearance of 2019 last week and you could tell. The game against Catalans was the first time he has played in the current system with Lachlan Coote, who plays a more structured game to what he was used to with Ben Barba so this may take some time to get used to. He was not helped by the fact he played with a inexperienced half in 18 year old Jack Welsby so now doubt the return of Jonny Lomax will help this week. If he can get to the form he was in last season then Saints will have a far better chance of getting a victory.
Meanwhile, Blake Austin has been in scintillating form recently, scoring six tries in his last two games. He has proved why everyone was tipping him to win the Steve Prescott Man of Steel award before he even pulled on a primrose and blue shirt. However, with no disrespect to Hull FC and London, he has a much sterner test this week as St Helens have the best defence in the league so are much less likely to fall for his infamous dummy.
THE IMPORTANT DETAILS
Date: Friday 12th April
Venue: Totally Wicked Stadium
Referee: James Child
WHO WILL WIN?
It’s going to be an awfully close game but I think Wire have been in the more convincing form in previous weeks and will continue it this week. Warrington by 2.