Yates' verdict: Saints may face toughest test so far in France
Saints will go into Saturday's clash against the Catalans Dragons at the Stade Gilbert Brutus searching for their seventh Betfred Super League win of 2021 but arguably facing as tough a task as they are likely to encounter at this stage of the season.
The league leaders and defending champions haven't yet scaled the heights achieved last year - something which head coach Kristian Woolf honestly admits - and knows the attacking side of their games needs to improve a notch or two if they are to clinch a third title on the trot and equal Leeds' successes in 2007/8 and 9.
But Saints have a habit of rising to the big occasion when it matters most and will take a lead from neighbours Warrington Wolves who beat the French side 16-6 in the quarter final of the Betfred Challenge Cup on neutral ground. at the beginning of the month
Naturally, it will be a different kettle of fish on French soil where the 2/1 title favourites haven't always had matters all their own way.
Defensively, they have been as sound as a bell and this is borne out by the facts that in eight league and cup ties this year they have only conceded 70 points .
It's a remarkable record but no one needs to tell the players that they are likely to be pushed to the limit by a Dragons' side which lie third in the table and will be setting their own sights on becoming the first overseas outfit to win the Old Trafford Grand Final.
The match will be screened live by Sky TV - don't miss it!
IT seems as if Leigh owner Derek Beaumont has got a real bee in his bonnet over comments made on air by former Saints' captain Jon Wilkin about the Super League newcomers, currently bottom of the table without a win to show for their efforts.
Personally, I feel he was wrong to scathe Wilko in a piece which appeared in the Leigh programme ahead of Monday's home game with neighbours Wigan Warriors.
It's not the kind of publicity Rugby League needs in a World Cup year but having known Jon since he first stepped through the doors at Knowsley Road ahead of the 2003 campaign, he will take the criticism like water off a duck's back.