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In-form Saints set their sights on second spot
SAINTS will approach their sternest examination at Langtree Park for several months with confidence soaring about the way their season is shaping up.
The belief within Mike Rush’s side appears to be building following six straight victories that has seen them rise into third place in the Super League table.
A win against Warrington on Monday night would bring realistic ambitions that they can yet challenge for second spot ahead of the play offs.
Expectations outside the club have been lowered ever since the difficult start to the season led to Royce Simmons’ departure and a temporary coaching structure being established, while a series of defeats to Wigan also dampened hopes of the season yielding silverware.
However a squad led by Rush and Keiron Cunningham, are beginning to make fools of those who predicted Saints would not be in the frame for honours at the season’s climax.
Rush, for one, is happy to fly under the radar, while the spotlight falls on the likes of Wigan and Warrington.
He is reluctant to be drawn on third placed Saints’ chances of finishing runners up but victory would close the gap with the Challenge Cup finalists to one point. Rush said: “We can’t start thinking about second place because it is not in our hands.
“We are reliant on some other results going our way and on us staying in the form we’re in and picking up the wins.
“(However) I did say this past three week period would be a defining time for where we finish in the league.”
He added: “I’m quite happy to stay under the radar and for people to talk about other clubs.
“Our character is good. We are playing a brand of football people want to watch but we also want to defend so you get admirers for what you do defensively – and I think we have the second best record in the league.”
Saints will be boosted by the return of Tony Puletua from suspension and the influential forward said: “We’ve had really good battles with them down the years and this will be no different – it’ll be a huge game.
“One of our goals was to finish in the top two and we have a good chance of that. We’re building a good platform as we come to the most important part of the season.”
Saints face Warrington on August 6 (8pm kick off) as part of the Sky Sports’ Super League Mondays schedule.
Langtree Park chiefs are hopeful the derby will attract one of the biggest crowds of the season and have launched an intense marketing drive ahead of what they are billing as a ‘Monday Night Thriller’.
Saints lost at their temporary Widnes home to Warrington last season. However, they are undefeated against the Wolves in St Helens since 1994.
Saints have rubbished tabloid speculation linking former Leeds centre Tonie Carroll with a role on Nathan Brown’s staff next season.
Rush, who is expected to return to his general manager role next season, said: “There is no truth in Tonie Carroll at all. That sort of stuff just destabilises your staff.”