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Defeat will help bring Saints up to mark for trip to Hull FC
3:55pm Wednesday 4th September 2013 in Latest News
SAINTS control their own destiny when they run out at the KC Stadium on Friday night, with a win or draw guaranteeing them a home draw in the play offs.
The beaten Challenge Cup finalists will be a tough obstacle – they won at an admittedly depleted Wigan last weekend and will have some rested troops back for this encounter.
Both teams are playing to secure some home comfort in the knock-out phase, so unlike some other game games at the weekend is unlikely to be a damp squib.
Coach Nathan Brown said: “We would like to play at home for round one, but the ball is in our court.
“The key for us is to go to Hull and play well.
“They will bring back some blokes who were rested at Wigan last week, but if we play well we will give ourselves a shout.”
Brown is under no illusions that a result on Friday will give them an easy passage to the next round – the times have changed since the teams finishing eighth simply made up the numbers and delayed Mad Monday for another week.
He said: “The home ground would be an advantage – but the bottom line is we will play Catalan who are very good, or Hull KR who are also very good.
“The competition is stronger in the top eight.”
Saints will be boosted by the return of hooker James Roby, with Paul Clough and Greg Richards also expected to be drafted back into the squad.
Lance Hohaia will continue to partner Jon Wilkin in the halves.
Although disappointed with Friday’s defeat, Brown believes longer term it will hone them for the play-offs.
After a bit of head scratching Brown did ponder whether he had selected the wrong starting line up to tackle the fierce Wolves pack.
“They come out of the blocks pretty quickly. Whether as head coach I started the right team or whether we did not pay the opposition the respect they deserved because they have had a four week period where they have been pottering about a bit.
“They played how I expected them to play and brought all their good experienced players back.
“We did not come up with the performance, but as a whole it is a good preparation for the finals.
“For 60 minutes it was an even contest, tough, physical, end to end with limited errors, low scoring.
“With regards to selection, we had to start Sia (Soliola) on the bench because he had only been back a week after a 10 week lay-off.
“Plus I have a lot of confidence in Ant Walker and Josh Jones, who have both been playing well. It will be a good learning curve for those guys playing a game of that intensity against that pack of forwards full of internationals.
“The only way to learn is by playing. Sometimes you can look too much into things – it was not just the young kids who did not start well.
“Obvious Sia and Louie came on and gave us a really good lift and putting Larney (Lance Hohaia) in the middle helped as well.
“When we rose, we did so for 60 minutes and at 22-16 we had a genuine chance.
“If you look at the weekend’s games it was by far the best contented and most intense game.”
Friday’s game kicks off at 8pm and is not on television