'Box Office Ben' Barba can run the show for St Helens
Challenge Cup holders Hull 5-1 to halt Saints' treble push
Ladbrokes Challenge Cup quarter-final
BBC2, 3.30pm Sunday
Hull have won their last eight Ladbrokes Challenge Cup ties but their trip to St Helens should mark the end of the road to Wembley in 2018 for the holders.
Lee Radford’s team are 16-1 to lift the trophy for the third straight season and 5-1 just to clear this huge hurdle against the Betfred Super League leaders and reach the semi-finals.
At least the Airlie Birds injury crisis appears to be easing with the mercurial Albert Kelly, Carlos Tuimavave and Scott Taylor all back in the squad and Jake Connor hopeful of shaking off a hamstring problem.
Winger Bureta Faraimo returns from suspension but scrum-half Marc Sneyd remains sidelined.
St Helens coach Justin Holbrook has the luxury of naming an unchanged squad and the Super League table-toppers are 1-5 to reach the last four.
Surprisingly, Saints haven’t appeared in the Challenge Cup final since 2008 when they won the event for the third time in four seasons and the layers make them 11-8 favourites to end the decade-long drought with a 13th triumph.
Betfred go 7-1 against the class of 2018 emulating the achievements of Daniel Anderson’s brilliant 2006 team by winning all three domestic trophies.
That seems a more than fair price and is worth snapping up.
Saints are four points clear at the top of Super League and the League Leaders Shield appears in safe keeping. That would put them two wins from Grand Final glory with the first of those matches at home.
Victory would leave them a similar number of wins away from putting the Challenge Cup in the trophy cabinet with Saints almost certain to be odds-on for both ties.
Those wishing to back St Helens on the handicap are asked to give up 14 points which was the margin when the sides met at the Totally Wicked Stadium in April.
Saints won cosily by 26-12 without injured talisman Ben Barba but Super League’s star attraction should shake off a knock to play on this occasion.
“Box Office Ben” notched a hat-trick in the previous round at Castleford and is 8-1 for another try treble.
However, the best bet is Betfair’s 4-5 that the full-back crosses the whitewash at least once.
Barba has scored in 11 of his 15 appearances in 2018 which makes Ladbrokes 4-9 much nearer the mark.
B Barba to score a try
4pts 4-5 Betfair
St Helens to win League Leaders Shield, Grand Final and Challenge Cup
1pt 7-1 Betfred
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