Don’t write off Giants in St Helens showdown.
The Tetley’s Challenge Cup takes centre stage this week, with Sunday’s televised showdown between Huddersfield Giants and St Helens Saints looking the pick of an intriguing third round draw, which features four other all-Super League clashes.
Despite having to cross the Pennines, 12-time Challenge Cup winners Saints go into the game as favourites in the wake of last week’s stunning upset victory over fellow powerhouses Leeds Rhinos which was achieved without a slew of leading players, including ace playmaker Luke Walsh and virtually a full-strength pack.
The victory emphatically showcased Saints’ squad-strength and emphasised just how far the club have come under coach Nathan Brown’s stewardship. So, with or without Walsh on Sunday, St Helens will take some stopping.
Previously maligned as a ‘tinker man’, former Huddersfield coach Brown really appears to have really grown into his Saints role this year and – by helping exciting full-back Jonny Lomax find his natural vocation at full-back – his side now appears capable of scoring from anywhere on the field with young wingers Tommy Makinson and Adam Swift supplying some serious speed on the flanks.
The are no issues for Saints up front either, where freakish hooker James Roby continues to confound statisticians with his jaw-dropping work-rate. Roby has been receiving great support from imposing back-rower Sia Soliola recently, and Saints forward stocks will be boosted on Sunday by the timely return of props Kyle Amor and Louis McCarthy-Scarsbrook from suspension.
But, as compelling as the case is for Saints, it would be foolish to write off last year’s League Leaders Shield winners, the Giants, even though they line-up on Sunday without their impressive first-choice centre partnership of Leroy Cudjoe and Joe Wardle.
True, Paul Anderson’s men aren’t quite living up to expectations this year – they have won just once in six games since their impressive victory against champions Wigan on the opening day – but they have shown enough flashes to suggest they are still viable contenders for silverware.
Last week’s home defeat vs Warrington was a case in point. The Giants produced a terrific first-half display to build-up a 14-4 lead, only to lose their way alarmingly in the second stanza, eventually surrendering 29 unanswered points after conceding three tries in the last nine minutes.
Anderson and his men will still be smarting from that defeat which, in theory, could make them even more dangerous opponents here.
With the likes of reigning Man of Steel Danny Brough and iconic pack behomoth Eorl Crabtree still capable of terrorising any side, Huddersfield will not fear the Saints having done the double over them last season, particularly now that dynamic hooker Shaun Lunt has returned from injury.
We at BetBright genuinely believe this is a game which could go either way, so the call has to be to have a play on Huddersfield in the handicap markets receiving up to six start.
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