St Helens poised for another big win over flaky Catalans
Saints sweating over Ben Barba's fitness
Sky Sports Mix & Arena, 7.45pm Thursday
Catalans hauled themselves off the foot of the Betfred Super League table with a 25-24 win over Hull last weekend but the desperate Dragons are likely to be brought straight back down to earth at St Helens.
Steve McNamara's men have lost all five of their cross-Channel league trips in 2018 and haven’t won a regular-season away match for over a year.
The bookmakers make them 14-1 chances to spring the biggest surprise of the season, while their table-topping opponents are 1-20 to go four points clear at the summit and tasked with giving up a 24-point start on the handicap.
Saints have won their last two games, against Huddersfield and Salford, by a combined margin of 126-14 and are sure to attract plenty of support to record a third consecutive resounding win against the Super League strugglers.
The one worry for punters is the doubt over full-back Ben Barba.
The brilliant Australian is in the St Helens squad despite being stretchered off with a neck injury during the win at Salford but it would be no surprise if coach Justin Holbrook opted to rest his star man with a Ladbrokes Challenge Cup tie at Castleford on the horizon.
Barba's absence at home to Hull last month didn't stop Saints easing to a 26-12 success and the league leaders ought to be able to cover the line regardless.
The full-back is 6-4 favourite to be voted man of the match for the fifth time in seven televised outings and that market will be wide open if he doesn't appear. Saints pair Danny Richardson and James Roby are next in the betting at 8-1.
Roby and Adam Swift are expected to return from injury for the hosts but Dragons duo David Mead and Mika Simon are likely to miss their first match of the season.
The French side have conceded 178 points in their five heavy away defeats, failing to cover the handicap on every occasion, and they could be set to suffer again against a St Helens side who average 33 points per match, more than any other Super League team.
Saints have rewarded their handicap backers in nine of their 13 matches this season and can improve that impressive statistic by putting the Dragons to the sword.
St Helens -24
2pts Evs Betway
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