Expert Salford fan: Louis Hawke
The win over Wakefield may have come at a hefty price for the Devils, as they could be without half-back Rob Lui and in-form hooker Josh Wood as both picked up injuries during the clash against Trinity. Who could the half-back partnership be against Saints this week? Jack Littlejohn and Jake Shorrocks? Or could we see Mark Flanagan try his luck in the halves?
As reported last week in my column, I published my opinion of Ian Watson being the most underrated coach in Super League and the performance against Wakefield backed up my views. Watson has stuck by the club through a huge transition, including losing former owner Marwan Koukash, plus big name stars such as Gareth O’Brien and Ben Murdoch-Masila. With Salford strapped for cash, Watson has still managed to bring in some big names such as Littlejohn, Ben Nakubuwai, and a few other young prospects. Last year he took Salford to dizzy heights: finishing the regular season fourth and leading the Devils to a Challenge Cup semi-final.
This week, the Devils welcome the Saints, who go into the game on the back of a 66-4 drumming over Huddersfield Giants. Saints ran in 12 tries against an out-of-form Giants at the Totally Wicked Stadium. Earlier this year, they managed to keep Salford at bay, winning 34-2. The Devils will be looking for revenge when the Saints travel to the AJ Bell in front of the Sky cameras as Salford will be hunting for their third win in a row but may have to do that without Lui, who came off injured against Wakefield.
Prediction: Salford Red Devils 14-30 St Helens
Expert St Helens fan: Mike Smith
It’s a good time to be a Saints fan and it’s fair to say we’re all enjoying what we’re seeing currently – but I’m erring on the side of caution ahead of Thursday’s match with Salford.
The Red Devils are a different beast on home soil. They battered Wakefield, who beat us the week before, and they’ve also defeated Hull FC at the AJ Bell this season.
They play a good brand of rugby and will really test our forwards; I think this will be the pack’s biggest challenge of the year.
That said, we have nothing to be fearful of, we’re playing great rugby and causing everyone problems. Ben Barba is just terrific and he’d make any side in the world at the minute.
Prediction: Salford Red Devils 14-20 St Helens