Top two spot out of reach

Caretaker coach Mike Rush
Caretaker coach Mike Rush

THE battle for the League Leaders’ Shield is now a two-horse race between Wigan Warriors and Warrington Wolves – and following their defeat at Wakefield, Saints find themselves in a dogfight to finish in a top-four slot.

They still occupy third place with 30 points – the same number as Leeds Rhinos and Catalans Dragons – but have a vastly superior for and against column, which could prove vital at the end of the regular season.

But there is no margin for error, starting on Friday when they entertain struggling Castleford Tigers, if they want to earn a home tie in the play-offs.

Sia Soliola and Jon Wilkin, who missed Sunday’s match through injury, may return on Friday, but Rush insisted: “If we are relying on injured players to come back and win games, then we are struggling as club.”

A fortnight later, Saints are at home against lowly London Broncos.

Then right at the death comes what may turn out to be the most important fixture of the campaign – a trip to neighbours Wigan Warriors with possibly a top-four spot hanging in the balance.