Another round of matches in the Super League XXVIII season begins on Thursday night and it does so with a repeat of the 2021 Grand Final as the champions St Helens play host to the leaders Catalans Dragons at the Totally Wicked Stadium.
This could very easily be a rehearsal for the Grand Final come the end of the season so as well as two points being on the line there is the chance for two top teams to lay a marker down to the other ahead of what is to come.
Where to watch
The match will be shown live and in full on the Sky Sports Main Event and Sky Sports Arena channels with the build-up to the game beginning at 7.30pm ahead of an 8pm kick off.
The general consensus is that we haven’t seen the St Helens we have grown accustomed to seeing this season and while I would agree with that, it is a sign of how good they are that should they win this match they would be within two points of the leaders and would have a game in hand. While St Helens got off to a pretty indifferent start to the Super League campaign they have come good in recent weeks and we are steadily seeing the best of them.
The champions head into this one with eight wins in their last nine matches in all competitions which includes a good win away to Warrington last week. I think it is fair to say that we are still not seeing what we have from them in recent seasons offensively although injuries are probably a reason for that. Defensively though we are beginning to see signs of the really tough to break down attitude that has taken them to the last three titles.
The Catalans Dragons are setting quite a pace at the top of the table which is really to their credit having lost some significant names before this season began. There were many who thought that they would need a season to transform into a different side again but they have made everyone who had those thoughts look a little silly. They are out of the Challenge Cup so they are going to get a rest after this match and things might be clicking into place for the French outfit.
Unlike St Helens, the Dragons attack has been very potent recently. They have won seven of their last nine matches but they did give encouragement to the rest last week when they slipped up against the Huddersfield Giants. Whether they were subconsciously saving something for this week only they will know but that was a surprise slip up. That was the first week in six that they hadn’t put 28 points or more on the board which shows how well they are attacking.
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St Helens could be boosted by the return from injury of Curtis Sironen to bolster them down the middle of the field. Tee Ritson drops out of the squad even though Tommy Makinson remains sidelined with injury.
Sam Tomkins and Mitchell Pearce missed that defeat to Huddersfield for the Catalans Dragons last week but they could both be involved in this one. Arthur Mourgue drops out of the squad for this encounter though.
St Helens are usually pretty dominant on home soil against the Catalans Dragons and a number of their recent eight wins against them have been pretty emphatic but I’m not convinced that the champions are attacking well enough to blow the French side away here. I would expect St Helens to win the match, largely because of that home advantage, but it might be that their lack of potency in attack stops them from covering the handicap.
Catalans have two very potent wingers who will be going up against inexperienced opposition here and they also have a master ball player to lead them around the park. The one thing we know with any French side is they aren’t going to lack for firepower through the middle so as long as they maintain their discipline, which to be fair isn’t always a guarantee, then I would expect them to be competitive here even if they don’t happen to get over the line. I’ll take the Dragons with the start.
Back Catalans Dragons (+10) to beat St Helens for a 3/10 stake at 1.80 with William Hill
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