I can’t see anyone stopping title number four

Paul Sculthorpe Saints

Well, it doesn’t get much better than that – a thumping Betfred Challenge Cup quarter-final victory away in France against one of our biggest rivals.

The drama doesn’t stop there either, as Saints head into a fantastic Easter period starting with what is always my favourite game of the year – a Good Friday tussle with arch-rivals Wigan Warriors at the Totally Wicked Stadium.

Following that, we face a tough trip to third-placed Huddersfield Giants, who have been in great form this season and themselves progress into the semi-finals of the Betfred Challenge Cup after a 24-16 victory over Hull FC, on Easter Monday.

I obviously tipped Saints for success in the South of France, but admittedly I probably didn’t think it would be as dominant as it was in the end – albeit the 36-20 scoreline didn’t fully satisfy coach Kristian Woolf, who said we played tough and clearly did enough to win but were not at our best.

Woolfy commented on a slow start, maybe down to nerves of knockout football, with Catalans crossing the whitewash first via Foud Yaha. However, business was soon resumed and a Jack Welsby-inspired first half saw Saints go in at the break 20-10 up.

Betfred Challenge Cup Odds

Further tries from forwards Morgan Knowles, Dan Norman and the impressive Joe Bachelor finished off the home side’s Cup dreams.

Personally, I just think we’re so far ahead of any team in Betfred Super League – in every department. We look fitter and more athletic than the rest. This shows with our defence, speed of line and aggression that we pride ourselves on. Add to that the back-field carries of Tommy Makinson, the intent of our forwards led by Alex Walmsley giving time and space for Lomax, Dodd and Welsby to do their thing, and Mark Percival’s devastating attacking lines and I honestly can’t see anyone stopping title number four.

However, there will always be those out to prove otherwise – and nobody more so that the Wigan Warriors.

Not only do we face them on Good Friday, but we’ve also been drawn together in the semi-final of the Betfred Challenge Cup to be played at Elland Road in a couple of weeks.

Unsurprisingly, Saints are clear 8/13 favourites with Betfred to lift the trophy come May – with Wigan at 7/2, Huddersfield 11/2 and outsiders Hull KR at 7/1.

Back to Friday, which will be Matty Peet’s first derby in charge of Wigan. There has been a significant improvement in their attack this year, and a big part of that has been down the performances of Jai Field.

The current leader in the Steve Prescott MBE Man of Steel Award points table has been in exceptional form this year and is certainly someone the champions need to keep a close eye on. However, he hasn’t faced a defensive line like St Helens’ so far this season, and no doubt he will be a key target in nullifying the Warriors’ attacking threat.

Both teams go into this game full of confidence, but ultimately I believe Saints are far superior on their day and will take the spoils by 10 points or more (EVS at Betfred).

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Author: Lucille White