Here’s hoping you all cashed in on my winning 11/2 winning tip last week, with man of the moment Joe Batchelor scoring first as Saints went on to beat Huddersfield by well over 12 points on Friday.
Batch crossed for the opening try of the game and the only of the first half, before the champions put the Giants to the sword in the second, scoring 19 unanswered points.
In the eyes of many, this was the performance of the season so far – total domination of an in-form team riding high in Betfred Super League.
I’ve said it for many years now – if Saints perform, they win. They are far superior to any team in the league… including Wigan. To beat a top-three side to-nil shows how good a performance this was, especially playing the majority of the game with 12 men following referee Chris Kendall’s dismissal of Sione Mata’utia for lifting an injured opponent off the ground.
What can be seen as a bit pedantic in the current world of player welfare and liability, players must realise you CAN’T do this or you will spend more time on the sidelines that on the pitch.
Sione now faces a three-match ban for his actions and will be joined by Morgan Knowles for the first of them after he was handed a one-match ban by the match review panel. Knowles was reprimanded for a late hit on the passer, for which he received a 10-min stint in the sin bin.
Rugby league is a physical sport, and the gladiatorial traits are what fans come out to see, and something our game can’t lose. However, there are new, stricter laws in place to protect both the players and the governing bodies, which means these will never be reversed – so players have to learn to adapt and use more control in these situations.
Saints’ demolition of the Giants could have stood out as the performance of the week, but on the same evening our neighbours over the hill put in an equally impressive performance, embarrassing Hull FC by 60-0.
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That’s twice in two weeks FC have had 60 points put past them, which is unacceptable for a club that were spoke about at the start of the year as potential competition contenders.
A lot has been said this year about Wigan’s strike duo of Jai Field & Bevan French, and rightly so. There is no substitute for blistering pace, and these two have opened up all defensive lines this season – but not as convincingly as the latter did on Friday evening, with French helping himself to a Super League record seven tries.
Back to Saints, and it was great to see Tongan powerhouse Agnatius Paasi celebrate his 150th career appearance with a try and the Betfred Super League Man of the Match.
Anyone who regularly reads my column will know I’m a huge fan of Iggy. His performances off the bench have been immense. He’s a player who knows only one way – straight and hard – and has been influential in changing games when he come on.
His leg speed and intent usually means he gets his nose through the defensive line and give James Roby and co. the ability to play on the front foot. Its fantastic news that he’s signed a new deal that will see him remain at the club until at least the end of 2023.
Next up for Kristian Woolf’s men is a visit to basement boys Wakefield on Sunday. Trinity, who for the first time this season slipped below Toulouse on points difference.
It will be interesting to see Woolf’s team selection and whether he decides to rest some key players ahead of the end of season run-in.
He will, however, know what is happening around him in the league table. Second-placed Wigan face Leeds Rhinos on Thursday evening – and Huddersfield take on Catalans Dragons on Saturday in what is probably the game of the round.
Whatever our team selection, I’m going for a Saints win by 18 points – and I’m again making it a double (7/1 at Betfred) with Joe Batchelor bagging the first try.
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