Third time lucky for Saints?
St Helens and Wigan meet for the third time this season, could it be the lucky charm for Saints as it is almost a year to the day since they last beat their foes.
The sides met in April at the DW when the hosts came away with a slender four point win after almost squandering a 22-10 lead midway through the match. Their first meeting this year ended in a dramatic draw at Stobart in February when they finished all square at 16-16.
The Saints host their bitter rivals on Friday night knowing that a win could move them about the Warriors in the Super League table. This move would also put them one step closer to the summit of the table. They have failed to win any of the last three derby meetings and as such their motivation to finally get one over on Wigan must be immense.
Wigan are by far the more successful side of the two, but both have been on a par this season and are currently tied on 23 points. With the leaders on 24, there is not much to separate the top of the Engage Super League.
Despite their home advantage Saints are 13/10 to take the win while Wigan are 4/7 favourites to come away with the win and complete a season double over Helens.
However Wigan have hit a rough patch and have failed to win in their last two games, drawing against Castleford after defeat against Catalan Dragons. The Saints are also coming into this game on the back of a draw against Bradford, however they will be have gained confidence with a comprehensive win over Leeds Rhinos and Crusaders in their two previous games.
The Saints will be boosted by the return of Francis Meli for the Stobart showdown, while Wigan will be assessing the fitness of prop Ashley Coley who underwent minor knee surgery. Last year's man of steel Pat Richards is going to be a focal point for the Warriors, he had a good game against the exiles and will no doubt be up for another bruising encounter. Richards is 17/2 to score the first try of the game. Jamie Foster is the Saints top try scorer and he is 10/1 to go over first in the game.
We make this a four point handicap game with the Warriors starting minus four and the Saints plus four at 10/11. Four points has been the only winning margin between these sides this year so it might be worth having a small punt on the handicap draw at 16/1.
Tiredness could be a factor due to the ill-timed International match between England and the Exiles, there will be ten men who could potentially be playing their third game in eight days.
At 4/6 I think it would be worth backing the second half to be the highest scoring half as concentration could easily dip allowing some soft scores on both sides.
The Saints have done their best to make Stobart feel like home and I think it's this passion which will see them end their streak and claim their first derby win.