Castleford Tigers vs St Helens Preview

The Lowdown

CASTLEFORD TIGERS

  • Castleford begin their Super 8s campaign sitting pretty at the top of the Super League table. The Tigers are 10 points clear of second placed Leeds Rhinos and look set to claim the League Leaders' Shield.
  • Cas' week off due to not being involved in the Challenge Cup semi-finals has allowed several of their players to recover from injury, with long-term absentee Oliver Holmes making a welcome return along with Larne Patrick and Adam Milner.
  • The Tigers won all 11 of their home fixtures during the regular season and averaged a hugely impressive 40.6 points per game across those games, comfortably the highest in Super League.

Head Coach: Daryl Powell

Squad: Matt Cook, Alex Foster, Luke Gale, Zak Hardaker, Jy Hitchcox, Oliver Holmes, Tom Holmes, Andy Lynch, Nathan Massey, Mike McMeeken, Paul McShane, Grant Millington, Adam Milner, Greg Minikin, Joel Monaghan, Larne Patrick, Ben Roberts, Jesse Sene-Lefao, Michael Shenton

Unavailable: Kevin Larroyer (Suspended), Junior Moors (Knee), Jake Webster (Ribs), Greg Eden (Shoulder)

ST HELENS

  • St. Helens produced a solid display as they overcame Wakefield in their last game to sit just a point outside of the top four heading into the Super 8s.
  • Justin Holbrook is able to recall scrum half Matty Smith after he was given the all-clear to return following the gruesome eye injury he picked up against Leeds in June.
  • The win at Wakefield was important for Saints and not just because of the points on offer. It was just their second away league win of the season but they'll need to improve upon that record if they are to make it into the top four.

Head Coach: Justin Holbrook

Squad: Kyle Amor, Theo Fages, Regan Grace, Morgan Knowles, Tommy Lee, Matty Lees, Jonny Lomax, Tommy Makinson, Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Ryan Morgan, Mark Percival, Dominique Peyroux, Danny Richardson, James Roby, Matty Smith, Zeb Taia, Luke Thompson, Alex Walmsley, Jon Wilkin

Unavailable: Ben Barba (Suspended), Luke Douglas (Knee), Adam Swift

  • Castleford's 47 tries in the LW zone is the highest by any team in any zone across Super League this season.
  • Saints' seven tries in the RC zone is the third lowest total scored in any zone in Super League this season, with only Wigan (RC zone - four) and Widnes (middle zone - six) scoring fewer in a particular zone.
  • Castleford's LW zone is their biggest weakness, with them conceding 34.4% of their tries there this season, the third highest amount amongst LW zones in Super League.
  • St. Helens don't appear to have a particular weakness in defence with the zone where they have conceded the highest number of tries - the RW zone with 16 - only standing at 22.5% of their total.

Analysis - what to expect
All of the talk in the press this season has been about what Castleford may win but the team they face here could be dark horses for a Grand Final spot. Saints have been inconsistent all year but have positioned themselves well to challenge for a semi-final berth. A win here could see Saints end the weekend inside the top four but they face a Cas side who have yet to taste defeat on home soil this year. They have won those games by an average margin of 24.1 points and to put that into perspective, it is a higher figure than Saints' average points per game away from home (19.4). It is hard to see Cas' home dominance coming to an end just yet, especially against a team that haven't travelled well all season.