St Helens v Leeds Rhinos - all you need to know ahead of Challenge Cup cracker

Holders Leeds Rhinos travel to Super League champions St Helens on Saturday in the pick of the Betfred Challenge Cup third round ties.

Friday, 9th April 2021, 1:59 pm
Updated Friday, 9th April 2021, 2:00 pm

Here's all the essential information for the big game.

Fixture: St Helens v Leeds Rhinos.

Competition: Betfred Challenge Cup round 3.

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King Vuniyayawa, pictured in pre-season acrtion against Huddersfield, is in contention for his Rhinos debut. Picture by Tony Johnson.

At: TW Stadium St Helens.

On: Saturday, April 10

Kick-off: 2.30pm.

Coverage: BBC 1

Tickets: No admission for fans - the game will be played behind closed doors.

Saints coach: Kristian Woolf, 45, joined Saints ahead of last season on a two-year contract. The Australian did not play at the top level, but spent five years in charge of Tonga and masterminded their run to the World Cup semi-finals in 2017. He was assistant to Nathan Brown at Newcastle Knights and took over as interim-coach when the former Saints boss left at the end of 2019.

Saints star man: Pick any from 17, but captain and hooker James Roby, even at 35, is one of the most influential players in the European game and Saints rarely lose when he plays well. And he usually plays well.

Key battle: Leeds’ New Zealand Test forward will be keen to make an impact against England front-rower Alex Walmsley.

Saints’ form: Saints have conceded one try in their opening two Super League games and nilled Hull KR last week. They are back-to-back Grand Final winners, but haven’t lifted the Challenge Cup since 2008. They have won their last six meetings with Leeds.

Previous meeting: October 23, 2020. Betfred Super League round 17. St Helens 40 (Tries Simm 3, Taia, Fages, Naiqama, A Smith. Goals Coote 6), Leeds Rhinos 8 (C Smith, Tindall). Referee: Liam Moore.

Last five results (most recent first): Saints WWWWL; Rhinos LWLWL.

Milestones: Lachlan Coote needs needs 15 points to reach 500 for St Helens.

Challenge Cup head to head: Leeds have won 11, Saints have won nine.

Rhinos injuries: Jack Walker (foot), Harry Newman (broken leg), Konrad Hurrell (calf), Ash Handley (knee) and Rob Lui (quad), Richie Myler (hamstring), Tom Holroyd (leg), Callum McLelland (groin).

Team news: Still no Kyle Eastmond for Rhinos, but King Vuniyayawa and 17-year-old Morgan Gannon are in contention for their debut and Sam Walters and Jarrod O’Connor are also added to the 17 on duty against Castleford last week. Saints are without Aaron Smith, who suffered a head knock in last week’s win over Hull KR, but Lachlan Coote will make his first appearance of the season, Mark Percival and Agnatius Paasi are both available after injury and Lewis Dodd and Jake Wingfield are also hoping for a call-up.

St Helens: from Coote, Makinson, Naiqama, Percival, Grace, Lomax, Fages, Walmsley, Roby, Lees, Thompson, Bentley, Mata’utia, McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Amor, Paasi, Welsby, Batchelor, Dodd, Simm, Wingfield.

Leeds Rhinos: from T Briscoe, Gale, Oledzki, Leeming, Prior, Mellor, Martin, Tetevano, Dwyer, L Sutcliffe, Smith, Vuniyayawa, Thompson, A Sutcliffe, Walters, L Briscoe, Donaldson, O’Connor, Broadbent, Hall, Gannon.

Referee: Ben Thaler (Wakefield).

Next game: Leeds Rhinos v Wigan Warriors (Betfred Super League round 3, Thursday, April 15, at Emerald Headingley, 7.45pm), St Helens v Wakefield Trinity (Betfred Super League round 3, Friday, April 16, TW Stadium St Helens, 6pm).

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