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Saturday, 17 November, 2018

Consistent Saints have more than a prayer against Rhinos

Giants could make Hull work for win

Mark Percival has contributed 14 tries for St Helens this season
1 of 1

Betfred Super League Super 8s
Sky Sports Arena, 8pm Friday

Leeds and St Helens have met in four Grand Finals and although this Betfred Super League meeting is nowhere near as important as those clashes, it will have a major bearing on who makes the end-of-season playoffs.

The second-placed Rhinos are in the better position for a run to Old Trafford and are 8-11 to beat Saints at Headingley for the second time in two months.

In June, the Rhinos won 24-22 but things could well have been very different had the visitors not lost scrum-half Matty Smith with an horrific eye injury after just six minutes.

Smith is now playing again after an operation and Justin Holbrook's team have won four of their last five games to move to the fringe of the top four.

That sequence includes a superb performance in a 26-12 success at runaway leaders Castleford and Saints are performing with much greater consistency than the Rhinos.

Brian McDermott's boys impressed in their win over Wigan a fortnight ago but were shambolic in last Thursday's hammering at Wakefield.

McDermott recalls teenage full-back Jack Walker who is 16-1 to repeat his man-of-the-match heroics from the previous meeting with Saints, but the smart bet has to be back the visitors with a handy four-point start.

Next weekend Hull and Wigan will be walking out at Wembley for the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup final but before that both clubs have crucial Super League games.

The popular wisdom is that cup finalists will rest star players the week before Wembley but that's certainly not the case this time as Hull coach Lee Radford and Warriors counterpart Shaun Wane will field their strongest possible sides.

The race for playoff spots is so tight that neither team can afford to take any risks at home to Huddersfield and Salford respectively.

The Black & Whites have won their last four matches, one of which was a 14-10 home win over these opponents, but the Giants have lost just three of their last ten league games and can make the favourites work for the victory again.

Rick Stone's side receive a ten-point handicap start and that looks worth taking.

Fast-fading Salford are handed a similar buffer at the DW Stadium but Wigan have struggled to put away sides by wide margins and this looks like a match best left alone for punting purposes.

St Helens +4
4pts 10-11 general
Huddersfield +10
2pts 10-11 general

Justin Holbrook's team have won four of their last five games to move to the fringe of the top four
E.W. Terms
Sky bet