Wakefield Trinity (H) – Round 24 Match Preview Phil Jones 1st August 2019 2019 Match Previews, 2019 Season Saints booked their place at Wembley following a 26-2 Semi Final victory over Halifax in rainy conditions at the Macron Stadium. It wasn’t a fluent attacking performance and it was by no means the best Saints performance of the season. Arguably it was one of our poorer attacking performances, but it was job done and we can now look forward to our 1st Wembley trip in 11 years. Last game review Saints had lost their previous six Semi Finals, so it was understandable we would be nervy and perhaps not be at our fluent best. The weather conditions were also horrendous which led to two very tight and low scoring Semi Finals. Despite the low scoring nature of the game, we never once looked like we were going to concede a try and lose the game. We were nowhere near our best, but we were always in control of the game and it never felt like we were going to slip up in this one. Our performance came under criticism from some, surprisingly a lot of Wiganers had their say on the game mocking us for playing so poorly against a part time team, which is quite amusing given we have beaten Wigan three times out of three this season. The only thing that really matters is winning in the cup. We hammered Wakefield in the previous round with a more fluent and attacking performance, but the result is still the same. I couldn’t care less if we beat Warrington 1-0 in the final after playing poorly, as long as we win the Cup. After 11 years of misery in the cup, it is fantastic to be back at Wembley and every Saints fan should embrace the day as we don’t know when we’ll be back there again. Our opponents Wakefield were a top five contender earlier on in the season but injuries and a horrendous turn in form has put them into a relegation battle as Leeds, Hull KR and London have gained some ground on them. They now lie just two points off the bottom and worryingly for Wakefield, they have a tough set of fixtures to end the season with them still having to face ourselves, Warrington, Wigan and Hull. Their games against Hull KR and London could prove critical to their chances of surviving this year as they look to somehow get enough wins to stay up. Chris Chester was being touted as a potential coach for Wigan at one stage having gained a good reputation at Wakefield. That has quickly turned following nine defeats from a possible ten and it is not just that they are losing games, it is the margin of defeats in a lot of those games. Their defence has completely fell to pieces and they are probably the one side you would like to play currently, given how leaky they are in defence. They’re going to have to find two or three wins at least to stay up you’d imagine. The Squads Saints Jonny Lomax, Tommy Makinson, Kevin Naiqama, Mark Percival, Regan Grace, Theo Fages, Danny Richardson, James Roby, Luke Thompson, Zeb Taia, Joseph Paulo, Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Kyle Amor, Dom Peyroux, Matty Lees, Jack Ashworth, Aaron Smith, James Bentley, Jack Welsby. Wakefield Chris Annakin, Joe Arundel, James Batchelor, Danny Brough, Anthony England, David Fifita, Ryan Hampshire, Keegan Hirst, Ben Jones-Bishop, Max Jowitt, George King, Danny Kirmond, Craig Kopczak, Reece Lyne, Jacob Miller, Tyler Randell, Kelepi Tanginoa, Bill Tupou, Kyle Wood. Saints will be without Lachlan Coote (knee), Alex Walmsley (eye) and Morgan Knowles (ribs) this week but we welcome back Zeb Taia, who has missed the last five with a shoulder injury. Aaron Smith and Jack Welsby return to the squad so they may be given a go this week if Holbrook decides to rotate one or two. It’s important we build a bit of momentum before the Cup Final though, so not sure I’d want to be making wholesale changes over the next few weeks. Head to Head Last 6 games – Saints 5 wins, Wakefield 1 win. Last meeting – Saints 48 – 10 Wakefield, Totally Wicked Stadium, Att. 8,453. Wakefield have been a bogey team for Saints in the past especially away from home, but our recent record against Wakefield is very good with victories in each of the last four. Our last win against Wakefield was a very comfortable cup win. Wakefield’s last win against us was back in 2018 when they beat us 24-20. Key battles Kevin Naiqama v Bill Tupou – This should be an excellent battle in the Centres. Both are quick, powerful and skilful and have caused opposition defences problems many times this season. Bill Tupou is one player I would love at Saints if either of our Centres left. He is unplayable on his day and Saints will need to be wary of the threat he offers down the left-hand edge. Luke Thompson v David Fifita – These two front rowers have a huge impact on the go forward of their sides. Thompson is arguably the best prop in Super League, whilst David Fifita isn’t far behind. Fifita offers great impact up front but he can also play fairly big minutes for such a big man and has a good offload aswell. Prediction Saints are unbeaten at home this season and that is one record they will want to maintain until the end of the season. Wakefield are in a horrible run of form, so logic tells you Saints will win this at a canter. As most players had a week off against London, there should be no signs of fatigue for this one and I predict a comfortable home win. Saints by 24.