SUPER LEAGUE expert Kaine Greenwood (@RetroPress) gives us the lowdown on the big Good Friday clash between St Helens and Wigan.
St Helens v Wigan | Good Friday 17.15 | Sky Sports 1
Ho hum. It’s another big ‘un.
This game is packed full of players who decorate the international scene for Australia, New Zealand and England etc. and yet the last few years have seen one or both of these two giants play second, third or fourth fiddle on the domestic front.
St. Helens last filled the cabinet in 2014 when lifting the League Leaders’ Shield and continued on to take Grand Final glory (against Wigan) in the same year. Wigan took their own double the season previous but have yet to taste further joy and have been on the end of consecutive Grand Final defeats.
When you are not winning trophies, the fans of your club at least look to enjoy some success against their local rivals. This certainly applies here in what is arguably the biggest derby in the northern hemisphere.
St. Helens would say they’ve had the better of Wigan in recent times – the away side look to avoid three straight defeats versus their bitterest rivals as they head to Langtree Park.
July 2008 was the last time the Saints recorded a third victory on-the-bounce against the Warriors, however.
Prior to the home defeat against Widnes in the last round, Wigan had displayed five solid defensive efforts in the league, conceding the least amount of points of any side.
Limiting opponents to 1-2-3-4-1-3 in terms of tries conceded in each game, the Warriors fair much better than their counterparts who hold a 3-8-4-3-1-5 tried against record.
St. Helens found themselves opened up too easily in the early stages of their defeat to Leeds last time out and, of the six previous rounds to date, have given up more points in the first period four times.
The club’s defensive staff led by Paul Wellens and Jamahl Lolesi will be fully aware this cannot be the case if finding a way to overhaul the second-best team in the competition last season.
Saints also have the task of a small but significant trip to Wigan’s conquerors Widnes backing up on Monday. That will obviously be another massive clash and I’m sure as much energy as possible (if possible in a rivalry like this) will be reserved with that in mind.
Wigan may face an easier task of re-establishing home form as Hull KR visit the DW.
The way in which both sides have differed and the fact that the Easter period requires all sides to be out on the paddock in 48 hours makes it tricky to make judgement on many games.
This time last year Easter produced an average margin of victory of 16.3 points following a margin of 21 in 2014. Unpredictability is as likely as an egg over this period.
The data does however lead us to a quite obvious selection on this particular match, if examining when points may be posted.
Five from six Wigan fixtures this season (84%) have seen an increase in points after the break and while St. Helens’ results in the second 40 are at juxtaposition at just 33% this may help for this particular match-up.
The Saints will not want to see the game get away from them in the opening stages – the effort exerted in retrieving a poor start at Headingley ultimately cost Keiron Cunnigham’s side at the back-end of that game.
Add in the historical view of the last two decades: 21-2-13 in favour of the second half selection and we are getting that all important value when taking the 5/6 SkyBet have on offer.
St Helens v Wigan – Second-Half to be the highest scoring half (5/6 SkyBet)
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