I DON’T know about you, but I’m happy Saints will be travelling to Wigan Warriors on Sunday in the end-of-season play-offs rather than a trip to Warrington Wolves – even though they haven’t beaten the auld enemy in four meetings during 2011.
Derby matches – and there’s none bigger than Saints v Wigan – have a notorious habit of turning the formbook inside out, often leaving post-match forecasters with egg all over their faces.
Wigan will go into the game odds-on favourites to progress in the competition at the first time of asking, but I’ve got a sneaking feeling they are in for a rude awakening.
Saints have been ravaged by injuries this season but apart from Josh Perry and Ade Gardner – the latter probably a week away from a first team recall – I expect them to have almost their strongest squad available, and that could spell trouble for the defending champions.
It will also be interesting to see what tactical plan boss Royce Simmons devised in his bid to topple the Cherry and Whites.
He will no doubt have learned a great deal from the past four encounters – three defeats and one draw – and hopefully can outsmart his fellow Aussie, Michael Maguire on the day.
The fans, too, have a big part to play and their vocal backing cannot be under-estimated – and could be the difference between Saints qualifying for the next stage at the first attempt or facing a second bite of the cherry.
So roll up in your thousands at the DW Stadium – and make yourselves heard.
n CONGRATULATIONS to Rainford who have defied all odds to avoid relegation from the Premier Division of the Liverpool Cricket Competition with one match against title-chasing Ormskirk still remaining.
It is a satisfying achievement when one remembers that Rainford are, in essence, a small village club who are punching above their weight, but now benefiting from their excellent junior policy established many years ago.
At the same time, commiserations to Newton-le-Willows who will be playing First Division cricket next season after falling through the relegation trap door with Northop Hall.
n I’M told the country’s top soccer manager played a part in Wigan Warriors’ Carnegie Challenge Cup triumph over Leeds Rhinos.
According to a member of the Old Trafford hospitality staff, who I have got to know well over the past few years when attending the launch of the engage Super League play-offs, Warriors boss Michael Maguire invited Sir Alex Ferguson to give his players a pep talk ahead of their Wembley date.
It seems to have worked wonders. Maybe they will ask him to pay a return visit if they reach the Grand Final.