The sporting calendar has been hit hard on Sunday, but one thing that has survived the Covid-19 cull is the Super League match between the Castleford Tigers and champions St Helens, which will be played at The Jungle.
The Tigers saw the leaders Wigan lose on Friday night, so they have the chance to move level on points with them if they can pick up a victory here, while St Helens will be eager for the victory to move themselves deeper into contention.
It has been a very positive start to the season for the Castleford Tigers, even allowing for the fact that they were edged out by the Warrington Wolves last week. We saw on Thursday night that although disappointing to lose, there wasn’t a whole lot of shame in that result. They will be eager to get back to winning ways here however, not just for their own confidence, but also because this is a chance to take two points off a rival side even this early in the race to Old Trafford.
The concern for the Tigers is that with the exception of the leaders Wigan Warriors, their other three wins have all come against sides in the bottom four of the table, so there is a chance that their position in the pile is a false one. They have a chance to prove that is not the case here. If they are to do that they will need more from their attack than they got last week, although conditions are set to be significantly better here.
I don’t think too many sides would have expected St Helens to have lost two of their opening five matches this term given how dominant they were last season but that is the case. Their loss last week to the Huddersfield Giants was the surprise result because to be fair their other loss came at Warrington, and we’ve already seen if you catch them on the wrong night you can get turned over. The three wins have all been emphatic ones though.
Even though they have lost a couple of matches, St Helens still have the best defensive record in the league. They haven’t yet shipped 20pts in any game they have played in Super League, which highlights that their attack needs a little bit of work done to it, or it needs to be more ruthless with the chances they are creating. We saw last season that they have the personnel out wide but there are concerns in the halves.
Castleford Tigers have their prop Liam Watts back in action for this match after he missed the defeat to Warrington last week. They will have to do without Oliver Holmes however as he is likely to be out for a couple of weeks.
St Helens have made one change to their squad which sees Aaron Smith coming back in to take the place of Josh Simm. Mark Percival remains on the sidelines after having shoulder surgery following the World Club Challenge.
I never discredit a side for winning matches but I do think it is fair to attribute certain wins over others and if you do that I think there are grounds for backing St Helens in this match. Castleford Tigers only have one win over a side outside the bottom four all season and there is no ignoring that. St Helens have lost two matches this season but they are to a dangerous Warrington side and a Huddersfield team who’ve made a great start to the season.
It might be that the difference in this match comes in the form of the return of Lachlan Coote, the Man of Steel nominee from last season, who hasn’t laced up since the opening night of the campaign. He will release Jonny Lomax to strengthen the Saints’ weak area in the halves and we might see the champions revert to the sort of team who took this competition by storm last year. If we do the four points Cas are getting for a start might not be enough to hold off St Helens.
Back St Helens (-4) to beat Huddersfield Giants for a 4/10 stake at 1.91 with Boylesports
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