The first stage of the Super League season concludes this weekend with the top eight progressing to fight for the overall title and the bottom four joining the top four in the Championship for a nervy seven matches to try and retain their top flight status.
One of the sides who look set for the nervy set of matches is Hull KR. They go to St Helens on Friday night for a televised clash needing a huge win and a big defeat for the Catalans on Sunday if they are to make the top eight.
St Helens go into the match nicely positioned in the table and will be chasing the league leaders’ shield over the remainder of the season. A win here will move them to the top of the table ahead of Leeds’ match on Sunday so they have plenty of motivation going into the game.
Saints will have to win without their captain Jon Wilkin who has broken a thumb. That isn’t ideal but the forwards is an area where St Helens are well stocked unlike their back line so it is an injury they can cope with especially with Atelea Vea returning from a shoulder injury.
Hull KR pretty much know that they will be in the ‘middle eights’ over the coming weeks but they will like to go into them off a win. They also have next weekend’s Challenge Cup semi-final to keep an eye on as well as a trip to Wembley is very much in their sights.
Injuries and suspensions are hitting Hull KR at the minute. Terry Campese was ruled out for the season a while ago but Albert Kelly’s injury has kept him out of this match with matches to come very much the focus as far as he is concerned. Kevin Larroyer is suspended which is another blow but Dane Chisholm has been signed from the NRL and could make his debut here.
St Helens have won two thrillers in the last two weeks which emphasises their ‘never beaten’ mantra that has served them so well throughout the Super League era but they don’t have the best record against Hull KR which could be a concern.
Hull KR go into this match off the back of a defeat to Hull FC in the derby last weekend and they will be out to prove a point even though matches to come appear more of a priority. They know how to cause St Helens problems though. They’ve beaten them already this season and have six wins and a draw from their last 10 meetings with them overall.
It isn’t ideal that Albert Kelly is out with injury but at least Chisholm has given them a solid option as a replacement. In Kieran Dixon, Ken Sio, Josh Mantellato and Kris Welham, KR still have potent attacking options and enough in their forwards to be competitive. I don’t think Hull KR will win the match the way St Helens are playing but a 24pt start looks quite a luxury and I’m happy to be with the visitors with that starting position.
Back Hull KR (+24) to beat St Helens for a 4/10 stake at 1.91 with Stan James