St Helens host fierce rivals Wigan Warriors at the Totally Wicked Stadium on Friday night, with the winner heading into the Super League Grand Final next month. This one is sure to be a fiery encounter Here’s everything you need to know.
TEAM FORM GUIDE
Saints won each of their last six league fixtures of the season, and defeated Hull FC 22-6 at the KCOM Stadium last time out. The League Leaders’ Shield winners have had an extra week to prepare than their opponents and finished 16 points ahead of the Warriors in the final standings. However, Saints have struggled in the big matches in recent seasons, losing in the semi-finals to Warrington Wolves last year, as well as being beaten by the Wolves in this season’s Challenge Cup final.
Wigan are on a fantastic run of form, winning 13 of their last 14 Super League matches, with their only defeat in that period coming against Saints. They are currently on an eight-game winning run which includes last week’s gritty 18-12 win against Salford Red Devils. Adrian Lam’s men have enjoyed an impressive second half to the season and will need to pull all of the stops out to defeat an imperious St Helens side who will be bidding to defeat their rivals for the fourth time this season.
Coach Justin Holbrook has made one change from the Saints side that defeated Hull FC a fortnight ago.
Aaron Smith returns to the side, in place of Matty Costello, hoping to feature for the first time since mid-August.
St Helens’ 19-man squad: Lomax, Makinson, Naiqama, Percival, Grace, Fages, Walmsley, Roby, Thompson, Taia, Paulo, McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Knowles, Amor, Peyroux, Ashworth, Smith, Bentley, Coote.
Wigan coach Adrian Lam has also made just once change to his 19-man squad, after last week’s bruising win at home to Salford.
Ollie Partington returns from his one-game suspension and comes into the squad for Dan Sarginson who failed a late fitness test last week due to a hamstring injury.
Wigan’s 19-man squad: Burgess, Byrne, Clubb, Farrell, Flower, French, Gildart, Greenwood, Hankinson, Hardaker, Isa, Leuluai, Marshall, Navarrete, O’Loughlin, Partington, Powell, Smithies, Williams.
HEAD TO HEAD
St Helens have dominated Wigan across three meetings between the sides this season. Saints won 22-12 in the season’s curtain-raiser before then claiming a 36-10 victory at the DW Stadium on Good Friday with Regan Grace scoring a hat-trick. They completed a third success against Wigan in July, winning 32-10, and have won six of the last eight meetings between the two sides.
Wigan’s last win against Saints came in August 2018, claiming a 30-10 victory at the Totally Wicked Stadium, which denied Saints the League Leaders’ Shield, albeit briefly, and will look to that performance for inspiration on Friday night.
Lachlan Coote (St Helens) v George Williams (Wigan)
Lachlan Coote has been nothing short of immense for St Helens this season. The 29-year-old Steve Prescott Man of Steel contender has scored 14 tries and assisted a further 22 in Super League in 2019 and will want to prove he is the man for the big occasion after Saints defeat in the Challenge Cup final last month. The Australian has scored a try in each of his last two matches against Wigan and with a big performance on Friday night could guide Saints into the Grand Final for the first time since 2014.
George Williams is making one of his final appearances in a Wigan jersey, before heading off to join Canberra Raiders in the NRL next season and will want to go out on a high with a win on Friday night. Williams is another name on the Steve Prescott Man of Steel shortlist, after a stellar season in 2019, and has an almost identical record to Coote, with 14 tries and 21 assists in Super League this season. If at his best, he could certainly cause Saints plenty of problems and guide his hometown club to consecutive Grand Final appearances.
THE IMPORTANT DETAILS
Date: Friday 27th September
Venue: Totally Wicked Stadium
Referee: Chris Kendall
WHO WILL WIN?
With both sides coming in to this one in excellent form, anything could happen on Friday night. Saints have looked far too good for the Warriors in all three of their league meetings this season, but Wigan looked to have turned a corner since losing to Saints in July, which was their last defeat in all competitions. Whilst having an extra week to prepare could give Saints an advantage, remaining match-sharp could also play into Wigan’s hands. We’re in for a cracker that’s for sure. St Helens to win by four points.