No Home comforts for Saints
ST HELENS COACH JUSTIN HOLBROOK SAYS HOME ADVANTAGE WILL COUNT FOR NOTHING WHEN HIS SIDE TAKE ON NEIGHBOURS WARRINGTON WOLVES IN FRIDAY’S BETFRED SUPER LEAGUE TABLE-TOPPING CLASH.
Saints, who sit below the Wolves on points difference following their first defeat of the season in Perpignan last Saturday, beat Warrington 30-12 at the Halliwell Jones 12 months ago but lost 18-13 in their last meeting, the play-off semi-final at the Totally Wicked Stadium in September.
“They got the win when it counted most last year,” Holbrook said. “We had a close battle earlier in the year when we won after the bell and we’ve had a couple of close games at their home ground.
“So I don’t think the home ground factor is going to play a part in this Friday’s game at all to be honest.
“Warrington have been playing well for a number of weeks and they’ve been waiting for a crack at us.
“Neutral fans should be looking forward to this game. It’s still early but for first to play second is awesome.”
The Wolves have sold more than 3,000 tickets on the back of an imaginative social media campaign, raising hopes of a near-capacity crowd.
Warrington coach Steve Price is warning his side to expect a backlash from Saints following their surprise loss to the Catalans Dragons.
“I think it makes them more dangerous,” he said. “St Helens are a quality football team. We know what they’re going to bring. It’s one v two, it’s going to be a great game.
“We had some really good battles last year but we feel, with the new players we brought in, we’re a much better team.”
Warrington wingers Josh Charnley and Tom Lineham go into the derby in a rich vein of form, with nine tries between them in the last two games, but Holbrook says his side’s priority is to stop playmaker Blake Austin.
“The wingers are obviously doing a great job at both ends of the field,” Holbrook said.
“They’re strong ball carriers who are getting out of their end really well and they’re on the end of some dangerous attacking play.
“We’ve got to stop a lot more before it gets to those boys. We know the season Blake Austin is having. He’s a pretty special player and he’s been outstanding for them every week.”
The match will mark Warrington hooker Daryl Clark’s 200th Super League appearance.
In Friday’s other game, fourth-placed Wakefield Trinity will aim for a third successive win when they take on injury-hit Wigan Warriors at the Mobile Rocket Stadium.
Wigan coach Adrian Lam picks out Trinity’s barnstorming prop David Fifita, scorer of two tries in their 17-16 win over Huddersfield Giants last Friday, as the man they need to stop.
“They’re in form,” Lam said. “They have players there, who at home, are different to when they’re playing away.
“David Fifita is up near the top for Man of Steel nominations. He’s a handful and a big body. He’s one we need to contain and put some focus into.”