Huddersfield – CCQF Preview Phil Jones 5th May 2021 2021 Season The Saints put in arguably their worst display of the season so far against Leigh, as they eventually won 22-12, in what was a very frustrating performance despite the victory. To Leigh’s credit they put in a very spirited and committed display and whilst they didn’t cause us a great deal of problems, they did make it difficult for us and the game was very scrappy as a result. Saints on the other hand, were god awful at times. Our discipline was pretty bad and we made some very uncharacteristic handling errors throughout the game to invite pressure back onto ourselves. We were defending for long periods of the 1st half, but our defence was excellent once again. Woolf stated his displeasure for the performance and highlighted that maybe we need a bigger game, so the players feel more motivated. Whilst this has always been a Saints trait of lowering ourselves to the opposition and raising ourselves for the bigger games, its still a bit concerning to hear that and hopefully we’ll see some kind of reaction this weekend. Another frustration from the weekend was the performance of the referee, who I thought had a woeful game. The amount of 6 agains and penalties against us in that 1st half was ridiculous and it led to a very poor spectacle as a result. The game flowed a little bit better 2nd half and made the game better as a result, but the 1st half his performance just spoiled it for me. Once again, our attack flattered to deceive and we missed a couple of good chances – mainly through Regan Grace, who is usually very clinical in the situations he found himself in – which led to frustration in our attack. I seem to keep mentioning it, but our attack is going to have to click into gear soon as we now hit a tougher run of games. Five Saints hit 100m last weekend as Mata’utia topped the metres with 133,Grace 125, Lomax, 118, Naiqama 115 and Walmsley 106. Roby once again topped the tackle count with 43, Bentley 37 and Walmsley with 34. Our Opponents Huddersfield picked up their 1st win of the season against Leeds last week as they won a dramatic game 14-13, thanks to a last minute drop goal from Lee Gaskell. That will give them such much needed confidence for this weeks game and it is a further sign that they have been slowly improving as the season has gone on. They put up a good fight against us two weeks ago, despite being dominated for large parts of the game. They seem to be a lot fitter then previous seasons, so I’m not sure we can wear them out like we did two weeks ago. They will come at us stronger this week so we need to make sure we’re on our game. We will need to ask more questions of them, especially out wide. St Helens Lachlan Coote, Tommy Makinson, Kevin Naiqama, Mark Percival, Regan Grace, Jonny Lomax, Theo Fages, Alex Walmsley, James Roby, Joel Thompson, Morgan Knowles, Sione Mata’utia, LMS, Kyle Amor, Agnatius Paasi, Aaron Smith, Jack Welsby, Joe Batchelor, Lewis Dodd, Dan Norman, Ben Davies. The Saints welcome back Tommy Makinson, Joel Thompson and Morgan Knowles (who has yet to feature this season) along with Ben Davies to the squad. James Bentley joins Matty Lees on the long term injury list and Jake Wingfield also drops out following a shoulder injury picked up last week against Leigh. The return of the trio of Makinson, Thompson & Knowles is a huge boost to the side. Makinson will most likely return to the wing spot with Naiqama and Percival in the Centres. You would imagine Knowles may start from the bench with the back row being made up of Mata’utia, Thompson and Batchelor with Knowles, Amor, Paasi and Welsby making up the bench. Welsby has to be in there somewhere given his current form and you’d imagine the bench may be a good spot for him as he can cover so many positions if he doesn’t retain his place at left Centre. Referee – James Child Kick Off – 8.15pm Venue – Emerald Headingley Stadium Weather Forecast It is expected to be a very warm and dry day with temperatures expected to be around the 8 degrees mark come kick off. Head-to-Head Last 6 games – Saints 5 wins, Huddersfield 1 win. Last meeting – Huddersfield 10 – 18 St Helens, John Smiths Stadium. The Saints have a good record against Huddersfield having won 5 of the last 6 games. The last match was at the John Smith’s stadium just two weeks ago as we overcame a tough Huddersfield 18-10. Prediction This is a tough game for us, probably our toughest so far. Huddersfield are finding some form and their last two performances have shown promise. They will come to play and we will need to improve hugely on our last performance. Some key players have returned for us which could give us a boost and Mata’utia moving to right 2nd row could make us more attacking and balanced on the right hand side. Saints by 10.