Huddersfield Giants set to take on World Champions St Helens


Huddersfield Giants finally take on St Helens this Thursday at the John Smiths stadium, with both teams looking to blow out the last of the early season cobwebs.

Play-off hopefuls Huddersfield Giants and St Helens will meet this Thursday, after the original fixture was postponed due to St Helens commitments in the World Club Challenge.

Both teams have made a clunky starts to their seasons, despite plenty of excitement around them ahead of round one. However Thursday’s clash is the perfect opportunity for both teams to put down a marker against a fellow play-off contender.

The Giants have yet to get their attack purring. They have adopted a more conservative approach, despite having one of the most exciting backlines in Super League.

Huddersfield have shown they are able to rip teams apart, blowing away Castleford in round two, but have not done this consistently enough to show their true attacking quality.

In their defeat to Wigan, they were able to pose plenty of questions but were let down by poor accuracy at crucial points. This will need to improve if they want to earn a victory over St Helens.

Their spine needs to click, and this could be why they’re playing a conservative style. Players like Nathan Peats, Tui Lolohea and Will Pryce all have the ability to play fantastic attacking rugby, but haven’t played a lot of games with each other yet. Once the Giants’ spine clicks they will be incredibly hard to stop.

St Helens haven’t met their usual standards this season. The effects on their trip down under could still be hampering the team, and injuries from there time in Australia haven’t helped.

Paul Wellens side are getting results, but are winning ugly.

In their wins over Castleford and Hull FC, they took their chances very well, but had to grind out the win in those games. This is something a lot of fans aren’t used to from this St Helens team who have won the last four Super League Grand Finals, and recently won the World Club Challenge.

But one thing this does highlight is their mindset as a group. Winning tight contests is often the sign of a championship winning side, and that’s exactly what St Helens want to be for a fifth successive season.

There are signs of their usual brilliance too, especially from star Fullback Jack Welsby, but they will need to be at this standard for the full 80 minutes if they are to leave the John Smiths Stadium with the two points.

A big part of their attack has been the strong carrying of Alex Walmsley. He is vital to the Saints with his aggressive running through the middle, and will need another top performance to get them over the line at the John Smiths Stadium.

In team news, Huddersfield have named a 21-man-squad which features star signing Jake Connor, who is in line to make his second debut for the club, after returning during the offseason. He looks set to feature in a strong and exciting backline for the Giants alongside Will Pryce, Esan Marsters, Tui Lolohea and Kevin Naiqama, who are all named in the squad. Youngster Harry Rushton is again included after impressing on his competitive debut against Wigan. Ian Watson’s side will be without Josh Jones and Matty English for the game, both through injury.

Saints have named a 20-man-squad, rather than the traditional 21-man-squad, for their visit to West Yorkshire this week. They welcome back Sione Mata’utia and Konrad Hurrell from suspension, who will link up with big hitters Jack Welsby, James Roby and Jonny Lomax to form a formidable side. Paul Wellens has also included Will Hopoate in the squad for his first game this season. They will be without Ben Davies on Thursday through injury, as well as Morgan Knowles who missing through suspension.

Both teams have made slow starts to the season, but who will take it up a gear and take the two points on Thursday?

Squads in full:

Huddersfield Giants: 1. Jake Connor, 3. Esan Marsters, 4. Kevin Naiqama, 5. Jake Bibby, 6. Tui Lolohea, 8. Chris Hill, 9. Nathan Peats, 12. Chris McQueen, 13. Luke Yates, 14. Ashton Golding, 16. Harry Rushton, 17. Owen Trout, 18. Seb Ikahihifo, 20. Olly Wilson, 21. Leroy Cudjoe, 22. Harvey Livett, 23. Olly Russell, 24. Sam Halsall, 25. Innes Senior, 27. Jack Ainsworth, 32. Will Pryce

St Helens: 1. Jack Welsby, 2. Tommy Makinson, 3. Will Hopoate, 4. Mark Percival, 5. Jon Bennison, 6. Jonny Lomax, 7. Lewis Dodd, 8. Alex Walmsley, 9. James Roby, 10. Matty Lees, 11. Sione Mata’utia, 14. Joey Lussick, 15. Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook, 16. Curtis Sironen, 17. Agnatius Paasi, 19. James Bell, 22. Sam Royle, 23. Konrad Hurrell, 25. Tee Ritson, 30. George Delaney

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