Wigan can make it a tight derby contest at St Helens
Back skipper Sean O’Loughlin to make an impact on his return
Sky Sports Arena, 7.45pm Friday
St Helens and Wigan are set to square up in their third derby of 2018 and there's every chance there will be a fourth meeting in the Grand Final in October.
Saints are 5-4 favourites to win the big prize at Old Trafford with the Warriors next in the betting at 7-2, but for now the focus is on this clash at the Totally Wicked Stadium. Justin Holbrook's table-toppers are 8-15 to complete a seasonal hat-trick over the old enemy but neither of the two previous triumphs was clear-cut.
Saints just held off a Warriors fightback to win 21-18 at home on Good Friday and then prevailed 14-6 at the DW Stadium in July.
Wigan were badly under-strength that night and although Taulima Tautai, Liam Farrell, Joe Burgess and Liam Marshall are all missing this time, there is some good news on the injury front for coach Shaun Wane.
Oliver Gildart and captain Sean O'Loughlin return after lengthy absences and the Wigan skipper looks worth an interest at 16-1 to be named man of the match.
Unsurprisingly, Saints full-back Ben Barba is favourite in that market and the Australian is sure to be the focus of attention with confirmation that he's joining North Queensland Cowboys next season expected imminently.
The hosts welcome back Luke Thompson from suspension and a Saints win would put them ten points clear at the Betfred Super League summit and secure the League Leaders Shield.
Wigan would love to play the role of party-poopers and look good value in receipt of more than a converted try on the handicap.
St Helens won by a flattering 36-16 at Wakefield last time out but the previous three matches produced two defeats and a last-gasp win over Warrington. They could be made to scrap for the two points again.
Elsewhere, Huddersfield are 4-11 to continue their bid for a playoff berth by beating Wakefield at home.
It was mission impossible when new boss Simon Woolford arrived in May but after eight wins in nine games, it's now merely mission improbable.
The Giants won 40-28 when Trinity visited the John Smith's Stadium last month and bookmakers expect something similar with the hosts asked to concede ten points on the handicap. That looks a fair assessment.
Wigan + 6.5
4pts 22-25 188bet
S O'Loughlin man of the match
1pt 16-1 Betfred
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