St Helens are battling Catalans Dragons tonight knowing that a place at Old Trafford in the Grand Final against the winners of Wigan Warriors vs Hull KR is at stake.
Saints will have been worried that they could have lost star backrow Sione Mata’utia to a yellow card after a tackle on Sam Tomkins.
The initial contact was fine but the way he landed on Tomkins with a swinging arm saw him concede a penalty but he avoided a penalty with Chris Kendall heard explaining that it “wasn’t direct” and that contact was made with shoulder and neck at the same time.
The incident did see Catalans take a 2-0 lead against the Saints but they could have led by more had they had Tom Johnstone’s try awarded which was controversially disallowed after a push in the back.
The clash is a repeat of the 2021 Grand Final of which Saints won 12-10 however this is a much-changed St Helens side with their point scorers that night, Lachlan Coote and Kevin Naiqama, no longer with the club.
Friday night could also see a changing of the guard among the current squad as it could well be the final ever game for James Roby and Louie McCarthy Scarsbrook, both of whom will retire at the end of the current season.
Whether Saints or Catalans win in Perpignan on Friday night it will mark the final ever game for one of Super League’s greats as Dragons’ stand-off Sam Tomkins is also set to retire, meaning one of Roby or Tomkins will get their ‘Last Dance’ at Old Trafford and the other’s career will sadly end on Friday.
It also could be the final game representing Les Dracs for many other players with Mitchell Pearce also set to retire whilst Mikael Goudemand, Adam Keighran, Tyrone May and Matt Whitley are all confirmed as leaving the Gilbert Brutus at the end of the season.
Neither team enter the game with any suspension issues after Saints star Alex Walmsley avoided a ban for his high shot against Warrington Wolves last week, whereas the Dragons are coming off a bye week themselves.