Jeff Dickinson-Fox reviews the campaign which saw Melbourne Storm crowned premiers in 2017.
3 days ago
Sculthorpe comeback on hold
Saints were hammered 44-6 by Hull at the KC Stadium in the immediate aftermath of the sacking of coach Ian Millward in May.
That defeat represented the lowest point of Saints? season and was accompanied by fan protests at the dismissal of Millward.
But since the arrival of former New Zealand coach Anderson a fortnight after that loss, Saints have rediscovered their touch, going unbeaten in five engage Super League games and crushing Wigan in the Powergen Challenge Cup.
Anderson now wants his side to maintain the momentum as John Kear?s side travel to Knowsley Road for the first of two meetings with Saints this month.
Anderson said: ?I don?t think that result?s significant now. I watched that game in New Zealand and I felt Saints had a couple of opportunities early in the game that didn?t go their way.
?Hull then played outstanding for the rest of the game but there was plenty of ?baggage? for the players that week.
?Now I?m sure they?re lighter in load and they?re also in pretty good form, playing a nice brand of rugby league.?
Saints are second in the table, three points behind leaders Leeds, but have seen their shape altered by a number of injuries in recent weeks.
Key ball players Sean Long, Jason Hooper and Mick Higham are out for the near future and captain Paul Sculthorpe joined the injury list with another hamstring problem last week.
Sculthorpe should return to face Wigan next week but his absence along with others ? Lee Gilmour is also injured ? has forced Anderson to change his gameplan.
He said: ?I was very pleased with the Wakefield performance, it was very committed. We had to hang in there, Wakefield had a very good team and came back very well.
?We had to hang in there because we just didn?t have the personnel to play the style of football we wanted to. We had to play a very conservative brand of rugby league.
?When you play that way pressure can build because you are counter-punching. The opposition had plenty of energy but we had to play that way.
?We built pressure on ourselves but we had to because of the players available. I was very happy.?
Given the history of recent clashes between Saints and Hull, the Merseysiders should be quite confident of avenging their loss eight weeks ago.
Saints may not have won at the KC Stadium on any of their four visits but Hull have not won at Knowsley Road since 1988.
But Hull coach John Kear, whose fourth-placed side trail Saints by seven points, said: ?It would be nice to reverse that trend at Knowsley Road and we are confident we can go there and win.
?We are pleased with how we have gone all season and we are on track to reach the goals we have set. We will certainly be ready to play tomorrow night.?
Hull are likely to decide between Graeme Horne and Tom Saxton for a wing place after Richie Barnett was ruled out with a hamstring problem.
St Helens v Hull, Knowsley Road, Friday July 8
St Helens 18-man squad: Wellens, Albert, Lyon, Talau, Gardner, Hardman, Moore, Fozzard, Cunningham, P. Anderson, Edmondson, Bennett, Wilkin, Fa?asavalu, Roby, Mason, Clough, Smith.
Hull 18-man squad: Briscoe, Blacklock, Yeaman, R. Horne, Dowes, King, McMenemy, Kearney, Cooke, Tony, Thackray, Saxton, Chester, Carvell, Brough, McNicholas, G. Horne, Whiting.
Referee: I Smith
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Crunch clash for strugglers
Relegation-threatened Widnes are involved in a crucial encounter when they take on fellow engage Super League strugglers Salford at The Willows.
The Vikings have been frustrated in their last two engage Super League fixtures, first being held to a last-gasp draw at Bradford and then being beaten by a late Warrington drop goal.
They remain in the bottom two but are confident as they take on a Reds side only three points above them and whose win over Huddersfield last Saturday was their first in eight games.
Vikings coach Frank Endacott said: ?Everyone says we are playing well above our weight but we are not having any luck.
?We know what we have got to do. We have finished our preparation now and we?ve just got to go and do it. It is a four-point game. If we can win it will change the picture.?
Shane Millard and Gary Hulse are back for Widnes after suffering injuries in the Powergen Challenge Cup loss in Toulouse and missing the Warrington game. Gary Connolly, Adam Hughes, Aaron Moule and Jules O?Neill are all still out.
Salford are likely to be unchanged after the successful introduction of loan signing Andy Smith on the wing and return of full-back Karl Fitzpatrick last week.
Tim Hartley is hoping to feature after missing out against Huddersfield but Andrew Brocklehurst is still absent.
Salford v Widnes, The Willows, Friday July 8
Salford 18-man squad: Hodgson, Smith, Littler, McAvoy, Fitzpatrick, Beverley, Robinson, Rutgerson, Alker, Langi, Coley, Shipway, Charles, Haggerty, Baldwin, Highton, Sibbit, Hartley.
Widnes 18-man squad: Emelio, Craigie, O?Connor, Millard, Cassidy, Stankevitch, Finnigan, Hulse, Whitaker, Frame, Mills, Fa-alogo, Rowlands, Smith, Whittle, Holmes, Viane, J. O?Neill.
Referee: R Laughton
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Thanks to www.superleague.co.uk for these great articles.