Vikings unlikely to repeat Warrington heroics against Saints.
Widnes Vikings’ produced a ‘performance from nowhere’ to upset a previously rampant Warrington Wolves in front of the SKY cameras last week, but it’s surely asking too much of Dennis Betts’ men to repeat the trick against St Helens this Friday.
For all the confidence Widnes will take out of last week’s upset, paradoxically, the victory makes a follow up at Langtree Park even less likely.
If Warrington were subconsciously lulled into a form complacency by the Vikings’ indifferent form, St Helens will have learnt from that mistake. That’s why us bookies make the Saints such prohibitive 1/16 favourites to win the game.
Nathan Brown’s men may have thrown in a couple of wobblers on the road recently against Catalan Dragons and Hull KR, and weren’t over-impressive despite making light work of the hapless London Broncos last week either, but the one constant in their season has been imperious home form.
Bitter rivals Wigan are the only side to have defeated St Helens at their Langtree Park stronghold and, perhaps even more ominously for Widnes, just Wigan and Leeds – the best two defensive sides in the competition – have restricted the Saints to under than 30 points at the venue.
It’s a blow for Saints coach Nathan Brown that in-form Kiwi Lance Hohaia has joined Johnny Lomax on the sidelines, but this is more than offset by the return of Luke Walsh after a three game absence, and the gifted Aussie string-puller will relish operating behind a near full-strength pack in which Samoan behemoth Mose Masoe is finally beginning to live up to his billing.
If, as expected, Masoe, Sia Soliola, Alex Walmsley and pals can get on top of a much lighter Widnes front six, the visitors are going to have it all on to maintain a foothold in this game which will surely negate the influence of their talented halves Kevin Brown and Joe Mellor.
With predicted fine weather and a fast-track also likely to work in St Helens favour, it gets increasingly difficult to spot a positive to latch onto regards Widnes’ chances – particularly as Saints will be keen to avenge an Easter Monday defeat in the reverse fixture – and Betts’ won’t be throwing all his eggs into this basket with a Challenge Cup semi-final looming on the horizon.
So, though it would be no surprise to see Widnes have their moments in what should prove an entertaining clash, the over-riding conclusion is that this represents a chance for St Helens to start building some real momentum as we head into the business-end of the season.
The points should flow here, and Saints look set to run riot in front of the home faithful.
The match kicks off tonight at 8.00pm in the Saints’ formidable home of Langtree Park.