Rush plots derby success

Jon Wilkin and Jonny Lomax celebrate a try
Jon Wilkin and Jonny Lomax celebrate a try

SAINTS will be hoping to avoid an unwanted hat-trick when they bring the curtain down on the Magic Weekend at the Etihad Stadium – the home of Barclays Premier League soccer champions Manchester City.

They come face to face with deadly rivals Wigan Warriors on Sunday night for the third time in the space of two months, and they are still searching for that elusive win, having lost the Good Friday Super League clash 28-10 at Langtree Park, and crashing out of the Carnegie Challenge Cup 18-4 at the DW Stadium nine days ago.

But a confidence-boosting and stunning 31-18 victory at Leeds Rhinos on Monday night will have acted like a shot of adrenaline to their system, and hopefully they will be able to build on it.

Caretaker coach Mike Rush said: “It has certainly put us in the right frame of mind as we prepare to face Wigan this weekend.”

Saints will be assessing any injuries picked up in what was a tough and bruising encounter at Headingley, but will almost certainly be without winger Tom Makinson, who was carried off on a stretcher in the second half after picking up a neck injury which resulted in him being rushed to Leeds Hospital for a scan.

Yesterday, Saints confirmed that he had suffered from concussion and muscle damage.

His absence could signal a return to first-team action for Ade Gardner, who hasn’t played since being carried off on a stretcher at Castleford on Easter Monday suffering from a knee problem.

Rush also has the option of recalling Jamie Foster, who was spent most of the season in the Under-20s, or bringing in Adam Swift – scorer of a hat-trick in his home debut against Widnes Vikings last month.

Alternatively, he could switch Gary Wheeler to the wing berth, and slot Josh Jones in at centre.

The full Magic fixtures this weekend are:

Saturday – Castleford Tigers v Wakefield Trinity Wildcats (1pm), Warrington Wolves v Widnes Vikings (4pm), Hull FC v Hull KR (7pm).

Sunday – Catalans Dragons v London Broncos (noon), Huddersfield Giants v Salford City Reds (2pm), Bradford Bulls v Leeds Rhinos (4pm), Saints v Wigan (6pm).

Tickets for the game are still on sale. Prices for the full weekend are priced from £45 for adults (concessions £22.50). Day tickets cost from £30 (concessions £15).