TRANS-TASMAN PREVIEWS | We've got a look over and made our picks for the opening night of the rep ro...
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With six games gone in the Super League, St Helens sit at the top of the table with six wins from six. The six-time Super League and two-time World Club Challenge winners are currently well placed in the league, so can they go on to win their first title since 2006?
Saints have not contested a Super League final since 2010 but this year they should definitely be there or thereabouts. They are currently 9/4 favourites with bet365 to reign supreme over European rugby league once again and, in truth, it is very hard to see otherwise.
The St Helens attack this season has been something to behold. With six games gone they have already scored 212 points and they haven’t even played the London Broncos yet! In their opening fixture with Warrington Wolves, last year’s beaten finalists in the Super League, they battered them 38-8. That is an incredible score against one of the leading contenders for the Super League. Warrington have played five games since and have only conceded 74 points. That’s how dominant the Saints’ attack is. Centre Thomas Makinson has been phenomenal thus far for the side and is joint-top in the try table with six. He also has two assists thus far.
If Makinson can continue this form then the Saints attack is going to be very hard to stop and one that should poise problems to Super League behemoths Leeds Rhinos and Wigan Warriors. The Saints are the league’s top-scorers so far and if they continue in this form they look likely to out-score every opponent regardless of their calibre.
In terms of defence, Saints are second only to Leeds with just 86 points conceded so far this season. The league leaders really are a cohesive unit. They attack as a team and all put a shift in when it comes to defending. One time Man of Steel James Roby has been hugely impressive in the defensive department this season weighing in with 228 tackles in six games. Saints are also blessed to have two fairly mobile forwards in Kyle Amor and Sia Soliola, who have made 120 and 110 tackles respectively. The side have a defence that supplements their attack perfectly and if they keep it tight at the back, as they are doing, they have to be considered favourites.
In terms of star quality Saints arguably have the two best players in the league. Hooker James Roby is something else, and someone who can carry his side. He’s fifth in the standings for tackles with 228 but his metres made is an incredible 852, second only to Zak Hardaker. With three tries, six assists and 142 runs from dummy half, Roby is the complete player and when he’s on point, which he usually is, he is unplayable. The signing of the season saw St Helens welcome Luke Walsh to the side. The former Penrith Panthers half-back has taken to the Super League like a duck to water and is the current top-kicker with 28 successful conversions. His right-foot will prove to be invaluable for the Saints and he could easily emulate the club legend Sean Long.
In conclusion this is the most competitive Saints side in years and one that should win the Super League. If they don’t, it will be because of their errors and not other teams’ brilliance.