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Preview: St Helens v
Bradford (C. Cup R5)
Willie Talau believes St Helens will be on a mission when they take on Roses rivals Bradford in the fifth round of the Powergen Challenge Cup at Knowsley Road on Saturday.
The runaway engage Super League leaders are still smarting from their shock 34-8 defeat by Hull in last year?s semi-finals, their worst result under coach Daniel Anderson.
And that will make Saints all the more determined to go all the way to Twickenham this year, according Talau, the two-try hero of their 32-16 win over Wigan at the Millennium Stadium in 2004.
?Individually we didn?t play very well and as a team we didn?t play very well,? he said.
?It was especially disappointing when you remember the feeling we had the year before when we won it. You know what a special occasion it is because you know what you?re losing out on.
?Hopefully, we can continue what we?ve been doing most of this year. We just want to give ourselves the best opportunity to make it all the way to the final.?
Bradford, the reigning champions, have lost to the eventual winners in each of the last two years and coach Steve McNamara says his players are desperate to add to their triumphs of 2000 and 2003.
?It?s right up there with the Grand Final,? he said. ?The club has been knocked out in the early stages in the previous two years and it?s gut-wrenching sitting at home watching the game.
?It?s important that the club has a decent cup run. Saints away is a tough fixture. They have been a model of consistency all year and are rightly judged as the best side in the competition right now.
?If we are going to come away with anything from this game, all 17 players will have to be at their best or near their best.?
The Bulls are aiming to end a run of four successive cup defeats by St Helens, including the finals of 1996, 1997 and 2001, their last success coming at Knowsley Road in a second-round tie 26 years ago.
Between them, they have won six of the 10 finals in the Super League era and Talau admits Saturday?s outstanding fifth-round tie would have made the perfect showpiece for Twickenham.
?Saints and Bradford in the final would have been a great game for the fans but it?s the luck of the draw,? he said.
?It?s great to be at home, our home crowd has been really good this year.?
Talau returns to the Saints line-up, along with Paul Wellens, Francis Meli and Paul Anderson, after being rested for last week?s win over Warrington.
Bradford are boosted by the return of Australian second rower Brad Meyers and full-back Michael Withers and are likely to play the versatile Karl Pryce on the right wing in place of the injured Marcus Bai.
St Helens 18-man squad: Paul Wellens, Ade Gardner, Jamie Lyon, Willie Talau, Francis Meli, Leon Pryce, Sean Long, Nick Fozzard, Keiron Cunningham, Jason Cayless, Lee Gilmour, Jon Wilkin, Paul Sculthorpe, Jason Hooper, Paul Anderson, Vinnie Anderson, James Graham, Ian Hardman.
Bradford 18-man squad: Michael Withers, Ben Harris, Shontayne Hape, Lesley Vainikolo, Iestyn Harris, Paul Deacon, Joe Vagana, Ian Henderson, Brad Meyers, Paul Johnson, Terry Newton, Andy Lynch, Stanley Gene, Jamie Langley, Karl Pryce, Brett Ferres, Stuart Fielden, Marcus St Hilaire.