The two in-form teams in the competition face off as St Helens take on rivals Wigan Warriors on Friday night.
TEAM FORM GUIDE
We are starting to get to the business end of the season and St Helens are still in red hot form. They have still only lost two games this season and are yet to lose a game at home. Their last two performance have been outstanding as they have beat Warrington and Hull FC away from home respectively.
At one point in the season it looked as though Wigan would be in a relegation fight but their recent form has dragged them into fourth place. They have won their last five games.
Despite the efforts of James Bentley in the hooker position, St Helens will gladly welcome back specialist hookers James Roby and Aaron Smith. Bentley does remain in the squad though with Matty Costello missing out. Joseph Paulo is also ruled out with a calf strain.
St Helens 19-man squad: 1. Jonny Lomax 2. Tommy Makinson 3. Kevin Naiqama 4. Mark Percival 5. Regan Grace 6. Theo Fages 8. Alex Walmsley 9. James Roby 10. Luke Thompson 13. Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook 15. Morgan Knowles 16. Kyle Amor 17. Dom Peyroux 18. Adam Swift 19. Matty Lees 20. Jack Ashworth 21. Aaron Smith 22. James Bentley 23. Lachlan Coote
Wigan have made just on change to their 19-man squad with Jake Shorrocks replacing Morgan Escare. They are once again missing captain Sean O’Loughlin for the second week in a row while Tony Clubb is included in the squad but Adrian Lam has said that they will decide at the last possible moment on whether he will play
Wigan Warriors 19-man squad: 3. Dan Sarginson 4. Oliver Gildart 5. Joe Burgess 6. George Williams 7. Thomas Leuluai 8. Tony Clubb 9. Sam Powell 12. Liam Farrell 14. Romain Navarette 15. Willie Isa 17. Liam Marshall 20. Zak Hardaker 22. Joe Bullock 23. Chris Hankinson 24. Oli Partington 27. Jake Shorrocks 36. Liam Byrne 37. Jarrod Sammut 38. Morgan Smithies
HEAD TO HEAD
St Helens have been the victors on both occasions they have played this season. They defeated Wigan 22-10 in the opening game of the season and then comprehensively beat the Warriors 36-10 on Good Friday.
Jonny Lomax (St Helens) v George Williams (Wigan Warriors)
Jonny Lomax is one of the best players in the competition and is arguably Saints’ most important players. Both of the games they have lost this season is when Lomax has been absent. So far Lomax has been involved in 32 tries (13 tries and 19 assists) and he has struck up an instrumental partnership with full back Lachlan Coote. The left hand side of Lomax, Coote, Percival and Grace strikes fear into teams and this was shown in a ten minute period last week against Hull as they took the game away from the black and whites.
This week rugby league’s worst kept secret was finally out in the open as it was announced that George Williams would be donning the green jersey of Canberra Raiders next season. Williams will want to finish his Wigan career on a high. A win against Saints would put them in third place and strengthen the possibility of Wigan being at Old Trafford at the end of the season. The England half-back is Wigan’s main threat and is known for his ability to make something out of nothing.
THE IMPORTANT DETAILS
Venue: The Totally Wicked Stadium
Referee: Ben Thaler
WHO WILL WIN?
I think the recent form of Wigan will mean that they will be the most competitive they have been against St Helens this season but I think Saints will just shade it by about 6-10 points.