Luck of the draw

Jamie Foster
Jamie Foster

LADY Luck again smiled on Saints when they were handed a third successive home draw on Monday night in the quarter-finals stages of the Carnegie Challenge Cup.

They will face Hull KR at the Stobart Stadium on the weekend of July 23-24 following comfortable victories over Sheffield Eagles (52-26) and Featherstone Rovers (70-0) in the fourth and fifth rounds.

The other ties are: Warrington Wolves v Wigan Warriors, Castleford Tigers v Huddersfield Giants, and Hull FC v Leeds Rhinos.

At this crucial stage of competition, no club can ask for more than a tie in front of their own fans, and Saints will be more than happy at the outcome.

On paper, the 12-times trophy winners will be firm favourites to overturn a Robins’ side which is currently languishing in the bottom half of the Super League table.

But the form book can often go out of the window in knockout competitions, and coach Royce Simmons will be taking nothing for granted.

However, thoughts of the tie will now be pushed firmly to the back of the players’ mind as they focus on a tough-looking league programme over the next few weeks.

This includes fixtures against Leeds Rhinos and Wigan Warriors at home, and a trip to Warrington Wolves, which fans are reminded is at the Halliwell Jones Stadium on Friday, June 24, instead of the original Sunday date.

Saints will be hoping some of their walking wounded will be fit to return to action sooner rather than later, which will be vital if they are maintain their lofty perch as the business end of the season approaches.

However, few, if any, are likely to available for Friday night’s home game against bottom-of-the-table Crusaders.

However the young players filling the breach have performed admirably, and I expect Simmons to give them a further vote of confidence.

n THREE of the club’s rising stars – Josh Jones, Jordan Chase and Daniel Yates – have been included in the 21-man England Academy squad which will face France in their own backyard on June 3.