Saint Helens vs Salford City Reds Preview
St. Helens prepare to kick off life in their new stadium against the Salford City Reds. The Sports Gazette runs its eye over this fixture.
Having left their spiritual home of Knowsley Road over the winter, the Saints have moved into the £20 million, 18000 capacity Langtree Park Stadium. Tonight marks the first home competitive St Helens game away from Knowsley Road in 120 years.
St. Helens could not really ask for a more favourable first home game. Salford were comfortably beaten 24-10 by a Rangi Chase inspired Castleford last weekend, when they themselves kicked off life in a new stadium. If they want to spoil St. Helens party they will have to do it without hooker Wayne Godwin and centre Sean Gleeson. New Australian signing Shannan MacPherson could be in line to make his debut in the forwards and Chris Nero is likely to be recalled.
The Saints kicked off their season with a hard fought win in the capital against the London Broncos. Saints looked good and incisive going forward but coach Royce Simmons will be concerned by the points that the Saints yielded to the Broncos. Losing young starlet Jamie Foster will be a blow as will the absence of England centre Michael Shenton, but there is some good news in the return of forwards Tony Puletua and Chris Flannery.
Match Forecast: There is no such thing as a dead cert in the Super League but the outcome of this game is as near to a sure thing as you can get. Saint put over 80 points past the Reds in their two games last season and there is no reason why the Reds should pose the Saints any worries.
Best Bet: Saints are 7/2 (Paddy Power) to win by 31-40 points. Saints will be looking to put on a show at their new home, and Salford could well be outclassed by this Saints side. Expect a try-fest and given Saints expansive game last weekend, an Ade Gardner hat-trick (16/1 SkyBet) is an interesting prospect.