St Helens Saints will be looking to add a fifth consecutive win to their tally as they face Huddersfield Giants away on Thursday in the Betfred Super League fourth round.
Back-to-back league champions Saints have won their first three Super League matches, as well as defeating Leeds Rhinos in the Challenge Cup. Huddersfield are yet to take a Super League victory in 2021 after a difficult start to Ian Watson’s coaching tenure.
St Helens currently top the table with six points, whilst Huddersfield find themselves in ninth, but Saints coach Kristian Woolf isn’t predicting an easy match.
“I look at it as potentially our toughest challenge yet,” he said on Tuesday. “If you have a look through Huddersfield’s squad, they’ve got a real classy squad, there’s a lot of quality there.”
“When you do lose a few games, you get a real steel about wanting to turn that around, and that’s what I’d expect them to have this week.”
Woolf has made only one change to what seems to be an effective squad so far this season. They will be missing winger Tommy Makinson, who sustained a minor foot injury against Wakefield Trinity, but not before putting away four goals for the Saints.
Makinson is replaced by Australian forward Sione Mata’utia, who is back in the line-up after recovering from a head knock.
Up front, Woolf’s side will be relying on the likes of Kevin Naiqama and Regan Grace to secure tries, with support from on-form James Bentley and Jack Welsby.
🗣️ Kristian Woolf has revealed that Tommy Makinson should be fully fit next week and has some praise for the returning Sione Mata'utia as he looks ahead to Thursday's clash with @giantsrl ⏳
There is also an update on Morgan Knowles in the full press conference 👇#COYS
— St.Helens R.F.C. (@Saints1890) April 20, 2021
Despite losing three of their last four games, Ian Watson has announced a Huddersfield team which is unchanged from their narrow 25-24 loss to Hull KR last week. Scrum-half Aidan Sezer remains in the selection after returning from an injury earlier this month.
The Giants will be looking to Jermaine McGillvary to deliver on points after his three-try, match-winning haul against Leigh Centurions in the Challenge Cup.
Huddersfield’s victory over Leigh put them through to the Challenge Cup quarter finals, where they will again face St Helens – making Thursday something of a dress rehearsal for May’s Cup clash.
With St Helens clearly on a stellar run of form, it’s hard to see past the league leaders for the win on Thursday, particularly with Huddersfield struggling to get off the mark this season.
Huddersfield Giants vs. St Helens Saints will kick off at 7.45pm on Thursday at St John’s Stadium.
St Helens: 1 Lachlan Coote, 3 Kevin Naiqama, 4 Mark Percival, 5 Regan Grace, 6 Jonny Lomax, 7 Theo Fages, 8 Alex Walmsley, 9 James Roby, 11 Joel Thompson, 12 James Bentley, 14 Sione Mata’utia, 15 Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook, 16 Kyle Amor, 17 Agnatius Paasi, 18 Jack Welsby, 19 Aaron Smith, 20 Joe Batchelor, 21 Lewis Dodd, 23 Jake Wingfield, 25 Dan Norman, 26 Tom Nisbet
Huddersfield: 2 Jermaine McGillvary, 3 Jake Wardle, 5 Darnell McIntosh, 6 Lee Gaskell, 7 Aidan Sezer, 8 Luke Yates, 9 Adam O’Brien, 10 Michael Lawrence, 11 Kenny Edwards, 13 Josh Jones, 14 Matty English, 16 Jack Cogger, 17 Chris McQueen, 18 Jack Ashworth, 19 James Cunningham, 20 Oliver Wilson, 21 Leroy Cudjoe, 22 James Gavet, 24 Louis Senior, 27 Sam Wood, 29 Ronan Michael
(Featured image courtesy of St Helens – provided by a LJMU student)