Tonight’s Super League clash is between two sides who have hit a good bit of recent form as Saints travel to the AJ Bell Stadium to take on Salford.
Jonny Lomax returns to the Saints side so Tommy Makinson will return to the wing, but speedster Adam Swift is ruled out with injury whilst Junior Sa’u misses out for Ian Watson’s Red Devils.
After a poor start, Saints look to be getting their season back on track after wins against Catalans and Warrington. Their opponents Salford have won three of their last four, including an impressive win over Castleford in their last home game.
Super League sponsors Betfred make the visitors marginal 8/13 favourites to win this with them concede a 4-point start on the handicap.
I think most headlines concentrated on the plight of Warrington last week and ignored just how well the Red V played, Matty Smith slotted straight in and Alex Walmsley looked back to his 2015 best.
Theo Fages and Smith could be one of the most effective half-back partnerships in Super league so things look a lot better for them than they did after an awful loss at Leigh three weeks ago.
The last gasp win at Catalans gave their season a real lift and this was added to by Smith’s earlier than expected return.
It is easy for people to knock the former Wigan scrum half, but let’s not forget he has played in the last four Grand Finals and has a Lance Todd Trophy on his cabinet from the 2013 Challenge Cup Final.
Having said that Salford have only lost once at home this season and are the only side to beat Castleford so far, followed up with a one-sided win at Widnes.
This looks like quite an even contest between two sides that could be vying for a top four spot but there’s no doubt Salford will miss the influential Sa’u.
The last three games between the two at Salford have been very one-sided affairs, Saints winning two of the three, but I expect this to very close.
This surely makes Salford the value getting a 4-point start on the handicap, neither result will be a surprise and whilst I just sway towards the hosts at 11/8, surely it’s better to take the added insurance of a 4-point start, especially given the absence of Sa’u.
If pushed would take a home win by 1-5 points in an entertaining affair.
The Red Devils seem to be going in the right direction and we can forgive the blip of three weeks ago when they lost at Wakefield.
Only Wigan have beaten them here this season and that record could still be intact after the final whistle.
As for the hosts, Greg Johnson and Justin Carney head the lists at 15/2 but former Saint Josh Jones looks an interesting 10/1 shot.
Don’t forget Betfred double your first try odds if your player goes on to score a second try and treble them if they score a hat-trick, please check T&C’s.
Finally the dreaded man of the match; the picks look a lot more reasonable now as we’ve moved away from some of the ridiculous Sky choices of earlier in the season, who could ever forget Zak Hardaker getting it because he used to play for Leeds and the embarrassment on his face when interviewed?
It could be time though to look at back-to-form James Roby and he would be my choice at 11/1 in a wide own market.
It’s also impossible to discount the returning Lomax at 11/1 with Smith getting the honour last week.
As for the Red Devils, with Todd Carney, Robert Lui and Michael Dobson in the side it could be hard to split them each at around 10/1.
Gareth O’Brien landed the bubbly earlier in the season and with a drop goal not out of the question he would be my choice at 11/1. So it’s Roby and O’Brien for me.
Wigan’s trip to Leeds is tomorrow for Sky’s Friday night blockbuster. As always, please gamble responsibly.