Two of the biggest clubs in British rugby league do battle in the latest chapter in their historic rivalry.
The current top two in the league are both vying for top spot in a dress rehearsal of their Challenge Cup semi-final clash which is set to come in less than a month as the pair pursue as much silverware as they can muster in 2022.
Set to be a brilliant clash between very different teams, who will lay down the first marker in the title race.
The Saints will be without second-row Curtis Sironen who is banned for one game after a head high tackle against Catalans in the cup last week. This compounds the absence of Sione Mata’utia meaning we could see Morgan Knowles move into the backrow as he did against Toulouse.
The Warriors are still without Liam Marshall and have more problems in the backs with Iain Thornley also dropping out due to a shoulder injury. Zak Hardaker has also been dropped for “dipping” below Wigan standards. This sees Abbas Miski and James McDonnell come back into the 21 for Matt Peet’s side.
Match Preview – Key Battles:
Jack Welsby vs Jai Field: Somehow young Jack Welsby has gone under the radar this year despite having double figures in terms of assists. Against the in form, Man of Steel leader and try scoring sensation Jai Field it is Welsby’s chance to prove that he might just be the best fullback around despite his young age. It is perhaps the best two fullbacks in the competition doing battle.
Jonny Lomax vs Cade Cust: Cade Cust is finding his feet at Wigan and settling into being one of the best halves in the league but he’ll be up against the benchmark Jonny Lomax. A great organiser who gives the likes of Lewis Dodd and Welsby the chance to shine, he’ll test just how good Cust is.
Joe Batchelor vs John Bateman: Over the last 12 months, Joe Batchelor has developed into one of the best all-round backrows in the league but still seems to be going under the radar. What better chance for him to receive recognition than shining against John Bateman, one of the best backrows in the world.
Where the game will be won and lost:
The aim of Saints will be to pin the Warriors deep in their own half, slowing down their ruck to nullify the threat of Jai Field and Bevan French. If they fail to do this, we could see the Warriors cause the Champions real problems. If the Saints can shut them down, we could see them again remind the league why they’re the very best.
Score Prediction: St Helens 26-12 Wigan Warriors