Saints looking down on the Giants
St Helens return to Super League action after being narrowly edged out of last weekend's Challenge Cup semi-final by rivals Wigan. Coach Royce Simmons knows that Friday's clash with the Huddersfield Giants will be a real test of the mental resolve his squad possesses.
"We're all very disappointed about the match and now have to put that game behind us and get on with the Huddersfield match this Friday," Simmons said. "We were all gutted we haven't beaten Wigan. Even though we had senior players injured and they were very courageous to play we still thought we would win."
Saints will be without Kyle Eastmond through a groin injury while dead legs have accounted for the trio of Jonny Lomax, Chris Flannery and Tommy Makinson. On appositive note though, Gary Wheeler is set to make his comeback after a shoulder injury had sidelined the half-back since April.
Huddersfield coach Nathan Brown will be boosted by the availability of captain Kevin Brown and David Fa'alogo, the former rejoining the squad after more than a month out with a knee injury. Luke O'Donnell, Joe Wardle and Keith Mason will still be missing for the Giants though.
The match betting for this game sees St Helens installed as the heavy 2/7 favourites, in comparison to the 5/2 on offer for the visiting Giants. When you look at recent form and further back at the recent history between the clubs, it's not hard to see why. Huddersfield are in the midst of an awful run of form away from the Galpharm Stadium, losing six of their last seven on the road and even more worryingly, they have never won away to Saints in the Super League era.
Huddersfield fans travelling to the game won't be completely pessimistic it has to be said. Their team is comfortably positioned in fourth place in the table, just a point behind St Helens, and can overtake the opposition with victory at the Stobart Stadium. It will have come to Nathan Brown's attention that his Giants team are not playing with the same quality or consistency as they did in the first half of the season. They are losing too many points defensively and up against an in-form team like St Helens they could pay the price.
The handicap has been set at 10 points for this one so both Saints -10 and Huddersfield +10 are priced at 10/11. The Giants ran out 40-18 winners in the reverse tie in Yorkshire in May and if you fancy they can repeat that scoreline then Huddersfield by 21-25 pays out at a mammoth 50-1.
Apart from that aforementioned Challenge Cup loss to Wigan, Saints have won four in a row domestically. Their game is looking good, they're throwing the ball well and importantly, have Leon Pryce back and doing the business. Pryce's return could prove the impetus the Saints need to push on in the final weeks of the season. Indeed the men from Merseyside are odds on at 4/7 in the Double Result market of St Helens/St Helens.
I'd have to agree with Super League tipster Chris Mousdell on this one and plump for Saints by 11-15 at 5/1. The semi-final defeat hit them hard but they will have moved on mentally, and will want to prove that they are genuine Super League contenders.