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Monday, 10 December, 2018

Barba can make his presence felt for Saints

Australian could prove a match-winner on St Helens debut

Former Cronulla Sharks star Ben Barba has joined St Helens
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Betfred Super League: Super 8s
Sky Sports Arena/Main Event, 8pm Friday

It's a popular theory that the bitter disappointment of a big-game defeat will impact on a team's result in their next match but there's no evidence of post-Ladbrokes Challenge Cup final blues in rugby league.

In ten seasons since the competition returned to Wembley in 2007, nine runners-up have shaken off the loss to win their next Betfred Super League match.

Twelve months ago, Warrington bounced back from the agony of a narrow cup-final defeat to win a really tough away match at Catalans Dragons and Wigan are facing a similar scenario.

Six days after their 18-14 Wembley loss to Hull, the Warriors travel to arch-rivals St Helens with both teams' hopes of a playoff spot on the line.

Both sides are a mammoth 17 points adrift of table-toppers Castleford but, more importantly, they are just a point off the top four.

Saints are 4-7 to repeat May's 22-19 home win over Wigan and are asked to concede a six-point start on the handicap.

It would be unwise to expect Shaun Wane's men to capitulate and the layers' assessment appears fair.

However, the unknown is how superstar Australian full-back Ben Barba will perform on his St Helens debut.

Barba has just completed a 12-game ban after testing positive for cocaine and is an X-factor match-winner.

Backing the former Cronulla star for man of the match can be considered when prices become available and it may be worth backing him to score a try at 6-5.

Barba scored 99 tries in 168 NRL games and notched 16 times in 27 matches for the Sharks last season.

Elsewhere, it would be no surprise if leaders Castleford relaxed a little after clinching the League Leaders Shield a fortnight ago.

Coach Daryl Powell will rest and rotate his squad and bookmakers appear to have factored that into their prices for the Tigers' game at Huddersfield.

That match can be swerved but fourth-placed Wakefield may justify support at Salford.

The Red Devils' season is unravelling with nine losses in their last ten league games and Wakey should take advantage of a two-point start at the AJ Bell Stadium.

Chris Chester's team played well in defeat at Cas last time out and routed Leeds in their previous outing.

B Barba to score a try
1pt 6-5 BoyleSports
Wakefield +2
1pt 10-11 general

Backing the former Cronulla star for man of the match can be considered when prices become available
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Sky bet