St Helens will travel to Castleford hoping to avoid the humiliation they suffered in the Challenge Cup – when the Tigers put 50 past them.
Since then, the Saints have managed to record back-to-back wins with a 45-0 thumping of Hull FC, and a late winner against Wigan. They’ve also taken advantage of their Challenge Cup exit by rearranging their game with Huddersfield that was scheduled for Monday. As a result they should be fresher than the league leader.
Castleford coach Daryl Powell has said he has needed to protect some of his players because of the schedule. Michael Shenton, Luke Gale and Zak Hardaker are among those who have been omitted from the squad for this weekend. There could even be a couple of debuts. This is a real test for Powell’s side who will not want to surrender any initiative, especially against a side that has found a little bit of form.
As a result of those changes, many of the bookmakers have the Saints has favourites. The best price you can get on them is 10/11 with Stan James – you can get Castleford at 13/8. While Saints have shown some signs of improvement, and certainly have certain factors in their favour, Castleford will still put out a very good side on Sunday – and have a 100% home record to maintain. 13/8 just seems too good to turn down. Sky Bet are also offering Evens for the home side with a +4 start.
While St Helens have evidently shown a little bit of improvement, there are questions that still need to be answered. They have yet to record more than two consecutive wins this season – they will obviously see this as a good opportunity but new coach Justin Holbrook certainly still has some work to do.
A lot will depend on which St Helens side turns up. If they are at it – a 6-10 points win could be on the cards – which is available at 5/1. If Castleford’s depth is even close to being a strong as their front line players, however, an 11-15 points win for the home side at 10/1 is a tempting bet.