We’re now 16 matches into the new Super League campaign and Justin Holbrook’s St Helens have built a four-point lead at the top of the table. With just two defeats so far this year, the five-time Grand Final winners will be confident of a return to the Old Trafford showpiece at the end of the campaign. Saints haven’t featured in Super League’s main event since 2014 but that should only spur them on more in their pursuit of glory.
Looking directly at the statistics for the 2018 campaign, Saints are deserving of their status as Super League’s top club. St Helens have scored 532 points – over 100 more than anyone else – whilst conceding just 200; the best defensive record in England’s top flight. It is hard to look past Saints on current form and Holbrook will be quietly confident of leading his team to a trophy-laden year.
However, it would be unwise to write the Wigan Warriors off just yet. Shaun Wane’s side have a game in hand on St Helens and a victory in that encounter will see the Cherries move to just two points behind the current leaders. Wigan and Saints are two of Super League’s most successful clubs and that rivalry, one of the oldest in world rugby, goes back to 1895.
St Helens look destined to finish the regular season at the top of the table but the Super 8s will tell us more about their ability to compete against the best in the business. Holbrook’s side, 5/4 for Grand Final glory in bet365’s rugby league betting odds, have been a class above their Super League rivals so far this year and it wouldn’t be a huge surprise to see Saints emerge victorious.
The ‘treble’ is still very much on. As previously mentioned, Saints will expect to hold down their status as Super League’s top side during the regular season but the Challenge Cup and Grand Final are also very realistic objectives. A favourable semi-final fixture against Catalans Dragons awaits for Saints in the semi-finals and fans might as well start booking their hotels for the August bank holiday clash at Wembley.
— St Helens Star (@sthelensstar) May 14, 2018
It would take a brave man to back against St Helens as they look to reach the Challenge Cup final for the first time in over a decade – they are red-hot favourites to book their spot in the Wembley showpiece. Steve Price’s Warrington Wolves, in excellent form themselves after a slow start to the new campaign, could be the team to stop Saints in both competitions. It should be an exciting second half of the season for neutrals.
Saints fans have waited patiently for their moment to get back to the Super League summit and Justin Holbrook has changed the entire mindset at the Totally Wicked Stadium. Less than three years ago, St Helens were in disarray but a return to Super League’s showpiece event looks like a certainty now. Who knows, we could even see a repeat result of Saints’ 2014 win over Wigan at Old Trafford later this year.