Injury-hit Saints facing Giant test.
Only a few short weeks ago St Helens were raging favourites with us bookmakers to win the Super League Grand Final. Fast forward to the present, and the injury-hit Saints appear to be in a state of disarray as they head into a crunch fixture with the in-form Huddersfield Giants at Langtree Park.
Welcome to the roller-coaster ride of a Super League season! Yes, following back-to-back victories over ‘easy-beats’ Bradford and London, Saints’ big-game frailties again were ruthlessly exposed by bitter rivals Warrington at last week’s Magic Weekend. Strangely devoid of aggression and enthusiasm, the Saints conceded four unanswered tries to the fired up Wolves in a game which was effectively over as a contest by half-time.
A brief second-half revival provided a degree of respectability to the scoreboard but not much more, and the recriminations of such a gutless display are still ringing loud. In particular, damning post-match outbursts from both captain Paul Wellens and coach Nathan Brown have even suggested a whiff of disorder in the Saints dressing room.
Brown – in typically cryptic fashion – hinted at a soft underbelly which is preventing his side from winning the ‘big’ games and, seeing as Saints also came up disappointingly short in the Challenge Cup defeat vs Leeds and the Good Friday derby loss vs Wigan, it is increasingly hard to argue with the ‘flat-track bully’ sobriquet.
Brown will obviously be looking for a response here against his former club – and he may well get it – but there is no way the Huddersfield Giants will roll over without a fight, and he hasn’t been helped this week by rumours of homesickness surrounding star Aussie halfback Luke Walsh and a growing injury toll which has now seen him lose ace full-back Jonny Lomax, yard-carving prop Alex Walmsley and quiet-achiever Josh Jones.
Following an indifferent start to the campaign – which coach Paul Anderson attributed to the disruption of heavy World Cup involvement – the Danny Brough-inspired Giants have quietly have climbed into fifth place in the table on the back of five consecutive victories.
In contrast to his Saints counterpart, Anderson couldn’t ask for a better situation on the injury-front which is exemplified by the fact that he is in the enviable position of having his first 18 squad-numbered players available for selection. He is sure to have his men fired up too as the Giants look to avenge a controversial Challenge Cup defeat at the hands of St Helens last month.
With highly-rated back-rowers Brett Ferres and Larne Patrick back in situ from suspension and injury respectively, the Giants will be able to field one of the competitions most formidable packs which will severely test the mettle of young Saints’ forwards Luke Thompson, Joe Greenwood, Greg Richards and Anthony Walker.
It shouldn’t be forgotten that a similarly injury-hit Saints side were able to rise to the occasion and upset the mighty Leeds Rhinos last month and with Walsh, James Roby and others available, there is still enough quality in the St Helens line-up to repel the Giants on a going day.
But, for would-be punters, it is a question of value. All things considered, we at BetBright don’t think St Helens should be such strong favourites to win this game and reckon, given the circumstances, that odds of 6/4 for the Giants to win outright seem worth a punt, for the neutral that is!
The match kicks off at 8.00pm tomorrow night at St Helens’ Langtree Park – You can have a bet on the Saints v Giants on our main site now!