Saints boss Justin Holbrook has full respect for Dragons
Justin Holbrook is set to experience his first taste of Challenge Cup semi-final rugby - and is taking all in his stride.
The Saints' head coach fully understands the importance of reaching the Mecca of British sport for both the club and its fans after a 10-year absence from what traditionalists still regard as the showpiece of the season, but their path is blocked by a Catalans Dragons side who, like their rivals, are in a rich vein of form and ready to match fire-with-fire at the newly-named University of Bolton Stadium.Holbrook said: ''We all know it is a big game, how desperate everyone in the town is for us o reach Wembley after such a long wait, and while it is just another game, it is far more important in the context of the season so far for reasons which are obvious and we will treat it as such.
''Yes it will be different on Sunday but there is little point not talking about it - you just need to embrace the occasion and lookforward to what lies ahead.''
Saints, who are unbeaten in their last 14 league and cup games, will go into the semi-final as favourites but the head coach insisted thatdidn't matter to either side.
Holbrook said: ''I would have respected the Dragons wherever they sat in the Super League table (they are eighth at the moment) andmake no mistake we will still face a tough and testing 80 minutes.''Coach Steve McNamara has done a great job but I'm not surprised. For one reason or another it didn’t work out at the start of the year – but I didn’t think with the players he had at his disposal they would continue to struggle.''It will be the third meeting between the two protagonists in the Challenge Cup competition - and Saints have emerged triumphant eachtime.
The Dragons were brushed aside 42-8 in a fifth round clash in 2009 and lost a quarter final tie 56-10 in 2006 but the most significant resultcame in the 2007 Wembley final itself which St Helens won 30-8.
St Helens have also held the upper hand in the last 10 Super League meetings - winning six of the games and losing the remainder.