STILL smarting from a 42-16 drubbing at the hands of Wigan Warriors, Saints will once more need to show their renowned ability to immediately bounce back from adversity.
But that in itself won’t be easy as they head to Humberside on Sunday to face a Hull FC side also hoping to placate their fans after losing 32-30 to neighbours Hull KR during the Magic Weekend.
Saints’ record at the KC Stadium is not too bad over the past three years – one win, one defeat and a draw – but the Airlie Birds are always a tough nut to crack in front of their partisan fans and only title-chasers Wigan Warriors and Huddersfield Giants have gone home this season with maximum points while Warrington Wolves earned a share of the spoils.
Saints caretaker boss Mike Rush said yesterday: “This will be a big game for us as Hull are one of the teams we need to bump out of the way immediately if we want to finish in either the top two or top four, and I believe this is still within our capabilities.
“We then face Bradford Bulls (h), Salford City Reds (a), Hull KR (h), and Widnes Vikings (a) and I feel all these games are winnable.
“At the same time some of the current top teams have of play each other and let’s see where we stand at the end of this period.”
Winger Ade Gardner is definitely out of contention for the trip to Hull after picking up an ankle injury at the Etihad Stadium, but ready-made replacement Tom Makinson will be back following a one-match absence due to suffering from concussion and neck muscle damage at Leeds.
Shaun Magennis will also be missing if, as expected, he was handed an RL ban last night (Tuesday), after being red-carded against Wigan on Sunday, which will almost certainly signal a return to the squad for Mark Flanagan, who suffered minor ankle damage at Leeds.
One or two other players picked up bumps and bruises at the weekend but injuries permitting Rush is hoping he will only need to make minimum changes to his squad.
Teenage centre Josh Jones, who impressed during a short spell of first-team rugby earlier in the campaign, may also come into the reckoning after being rested during the past few weeks.
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Weather for St Helens
Saturday 18 May 2013
Temperature: 7 C to 10 C
Wind Speed: 25 mph
Wind direction: West
Temperature: 10 C to 16 C
Wind Speed: 15 mph
Wind direction: North west