Wakefield will be out to pile more misery on St Helens when the Super League leaders visit the Mobile Rocket Stadium tonight (Thursday).
After being knocked out of the Challenge Cup and losing at home in the first round of the Super 8s, Saints will be anxious not to turn a drama into a crisis but they will face a stern test against Trinity, who were one of only two teams to defeat them in the regular season.
They are a big side and it is a tough place to go. We know we are in for a tough gameJustin Holbrook
“We’ve had two really competitive games against Saints this year,” said Wakefield coach Chris Chester.
“They are always exciting games, both teams like to throw the ball around.
“They’ve lost their last two and we’ve had a couple of decent wins but we’re expecting the St Helens side that turned up here at the Mobile Rocket and that beat us at their place.”
Despite their defeat by Huddersfield, Saints still need only five points from their last six matches to lift the League Leaders’ Shield while Wakefield are eight points off a semi-final spot and effectively playing for fifth place.
“It’s still mathematically possible for us to get into the four and, while ever that’s still possible, we’ve got something to aim at,” Chester said.
“We want to try and finish the season at least where we finished last year and that’s fifth spot so there’s a lot to play for.
“There’s another five or six games and it’s about trying to build some momentum for next season as well.”
St Helens coach Justin Holbrook put his side’s surprise defeat by the Giants down to a hangover from their cup semi-final loss to Catalans Dragons and is confident they can quickly re-discover their old touch.
“This week feels like a normal week in terms of preparation,” Holbrook said.
“Wakefield have always been thereabouts this season and I can’t remember them being beaten easily at all.
“They are a big side and it is a tough place to go. We know we are in for a tough game.”
Saints are without prop Luke Thompson, their most effective forward this year, after opting not to contest his one-match penalty notice for fear that, if unsuccessful, the ban could be increased.
Holbrook has also included hooker Aaron Smith for what would be his debut and namesake Matty, the former England scrum-half who is hoping for his first start since April.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if they make a few more changes,” said Chester, who has the luxury of a full-strength squad to choose from.
Back-row forward James Batchelor will return after missing last Friday’s win at Hull though illness but Scott Grix, out since May after undergoing shoulder surgery, must fight to dislodge Max Jowitt from the full-back spot.
“We’ve got a fully-fit squad to choose from and there’s been a couple of tough decisions to make but we’ll go with a similar 17,” Chester said.
“The guys who played last week need rewarding.
“Max has done really well but he knows Grixy is putting some pressure on him.”