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COUNTDOWN TO SUPER LEAGUE 2013: St Helens fixtures
1:33pm Tuesday 29th January 2013 in Sport
Ahead of the new rugby league season's big kick off, the Star's Mike Critchley examines Saints' Super League fixtures round-by-round for 2013.
February 2 Huddersfield Giants, 4.45pm (home)
Well the fixture planners have made this an intriguing start to Saints’ Super League campaign with the visit of new boss Nathan Brown’s former club. Giants themselves have a couple of Saints old boys in charge with former prop Paul Anderson being assisted by Kieron Purtill. History is on Saints’ side - Huddersfield have not won at Saints since 1978.
February 10 Widnes, 3pm (away)
The short trip to the other side of Sutton Manor is always a competitive local derby, especially on the iPitch in winter. Last year Saints escaped by the skin of their teeth with a last gasp Josh Jones try and Lee Gaskell conversion giving them a 24-23 victory. Denis Betts’ men finished last year stronger than they started and will
February 15 Hull FC, 8pm (home)
Hull’s last two trips to the town of St Helens have been productive ones for the visitors and miserable for the hosts. When Saints lost an awful game last year, it effectively sealed Royce Simmons’ fate. Although Saints won the corresponding fixture on the road in Widnes in 2011, the previous year was another miserable night for the men in the red vee succumbed to old boy Sean Long – and the fog!
February 24 Bradford Bulls, 3pm (away)
If past experiences are anything to go by, take your sou’wester as the heavens invariably open at this most inhospitable of grounds. Saints have not won at Odsal since 2010.
Leeds Rhinos, 8pm. (home) Saints will look forward to welcoming the champions and will be hoping to carry on where they left off last season having done the double over the Rhinos. Leeds look even stronger this year, boosted by newcomers Mitch Achurch, Joel Moon and Joe Vickery.
March 8 Warrington Wolves, 8pm. (away)
Another red letter day on the fans’ and players’ fixture list. There must be something about the Halliwell Jones Stadium atmosphere that brings the best out of Saints with this fixture producing some absolute blinders over the years. Last year Saints won on both their visits to Warrington – in the league and in the play-off.
March 15 Wakefield Trinity Wildcats, 8pm (home)
Richard Agar’s side were last year’s surprise package. Seeing new signing and former State of Origin prop Justin Poore tangle with the Saints front row could be interesting!
March 22, Salford City Reds, 8pm (home)
Financially troubled Reds have plenty of Saints interest on board. Aside from coaching duo Phil Veivers and Sean Long, ex-packman Andrew Dixon now forms an effective second row partnership with Matty Ashurst.
March 29, Good Friday, Wigan Warriors (away)
Saints won at the DW Stadium on the last day of the regular season after losing the season’s three other meet ups. Wigan have two new half backs this term, with Blake Green and ex-Saint Matty Smith coming in for Brett Finch and Thomas Leuluai.
April 1 Easter Monday Castleford Tigers, 3pm,(home)
Ian Millward’s side struggled last year and only avoided the wooden spoon on points difference. Will they fare better this season with former Saints centre Michael Shenton back home and with the armband?
April 7 Hull KR, 3pm. (away)
New Craven Park is something of a graveyard for Saints having not won a league encounter against the Robins since their 40-0 win in 2007. Last year the teams shared 72 points but Saints’ four previous Super League visits have proved fruitless.
April 12 Catalan Dragons, 8pm, SKY (home)
The Dragons stunned Saints last year with a late try of Wide to West proportions from Daryl Millard, goaled by Scott Dureau giving the visitors a 34-32 victory. It is sure to be another thriller. The Dragons have a new coach in Laurent Frayssinous and players in Brent Webb, Olivier Elima and Zeb Taia.
April 21 Challenge Cup Round 4
April 27 London Broncos, 3pm (away)
The trip to London has traditionally been a productive one for the men in the red vee, having only lost once in the capital (April 2002) against the Londoners since their formation as Fulham in 1980. As always, a keenly awaited game for Saints’ own Londoner Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook.
May 3 Widnes Vikings, 8pm (home)
A first trip to Langtree Park in Vikings colours for key signing Kevin Brown. As well as the Haydock-born stand off, Widnes have other local interest in pacy wing Paddy Flynn.
May 12 Challenge Cup Round 5.
May 20 Leeds Rhinos, 7.45pm. (away)
Once again the trip to Headingley is a Monday night fixture. Jonny Lomax produced a stuuning two tries, two goals and a drop last season to help Saints win 31-18 and complete the double.
May 25 Warrington Wolves, 6.45pm, Magic.
This year sees a change of Magic opponents, but still a cracker of a local derby. The wide open spaces of Manchester City’s Etihad stadium will provide plenty of room for open rugby. Last year’s awful defensive display in the 42-16 defeat by Wigan at Magic was the catalyst for a real dig at the latter end of the season.
June 3, Huddersfield Giants 7.45pm, (away)
Another Monday night game for the travelling fans and the third tough one on the road for the players. It will be interesting to see how Stuart Fielden goes in Giants colours this term.
June 9 Bradford Bulls, 3pm. (home)
The game marks the first return to Langtree Park for ex-Saints wing Jamie Foster since his departure over the Pennines. The one-time crowd favourite would love to slot over the winning goal.
June 21 Salford City Reds, 8pm. (away)
All being well the Reds, currently subject to a winding up order, will still be in the competition. They have lost some good players, but with Sean Long as attack coach, the Reds always play some attractive football. It will be interesting to see how ex-Saints centre Martin Gleeson goes after serving an 18-month drug ban.
June 28, Hull KR, 8pm (home)
Will there be scope for Hull KR’s new signing Omari Caro – the fastest man in the game – to show his pace?
July 7 Castleford Tigers, 3.30pm (away)
Can Ian Millward finally get one over his former club in this potential banana skin fixture?
July 14 Challenge Cup quarter final 22 Wigan Warriors, 7.45pm, (home)
Potentially a tricky fixture to call for both sides with this Monday night game being played out the week leading up to the Challenge Cup semi-finals.
July 28 Challenge Cup semi final
August 3, Catalan Dragons 6pm (away)
Saints showed they meant business in Perpignan last year, with a win in the south of France despite the sending off of Tony Puletua, firing them up for the remaining games. A tough one for Saints will be even harder if they are backing up from a cup semi-final.
August 9, London Broncos, 8pm (home)
Whether it is the lack of atmosphere, due to there being little in the way of travelling support, but this fixture has caught Saints flat a few times.
August 18 Wakefield Trinity Wildcats, 3.30pm (away)
Trinity have had Saints’ number a few times at Belle Vue since their return to the top flight. Last year a Paul Sykes drop goal snatched an unlikely win for the Wildcats after a ding-dong tussle.
August 24 Challenge Cup Final 30 Warrington Wolves, 8pm (home)
One – or both – of the sides could well be seeing champagne corks from the previous week’s Wembley excursion but with this game likely to have a bearing on the top four, the two points from this will not be given away.
Saints have a point to prove too – having not lost to the Wire at Knowsley Road for an age, they have yet to win a home game against the Wolves since their departure from their one time fortress.
September 6, Hull FC, 8pm (away)
What is always an intriguing clash will be even more so this term with Hull FC old boys Willie Manu and Jordan Turner wearing the red vee.