SAINTS’ 16-point lead at the top of the Super League will count for nothing tonight when reigning champions Wigan come to town with a place at Old Trafford at stake.

Although the league leaders were rewarded with a week off and home advantage, that is where the rewards end and Saints must lift their game to take the direct route to the Grand Final on October 12.

Tonight’s losers will have a second bite of the cherry next week against Salford, but Saints will not be looking past tonight.

Justin Holbrook, who will address the crowd after the game tonight should Saints win, expects to play a tougher Wigan side than the one they have thrice beaten all year.

He said: “Wigan have improved a lot as the year has gone on, injuries aside, they are playing a lot better now and they showed that last Friday as they have the last eight or 10 weeks.

“They have improved and are working hard and we are going to have to play well on Friday that is for sure.”

With the spectre of the Wembley defeat still haunting the club, the play-offs give the team the perfect opportunity to do themselves justice after an almost perfect year week-to-week.

And crucially, unlike at Wembley, they are all match fit and ticking over nicely ahead of this huge battle.

“We are in a really good place and have everyone fit at the end of the year, which is nice, because we went into Wembley with five guys only playing one game in five weeks so that was a difficult challenge and not ideal preparation,” he said.

“We are in a much better position going into this.

“We’d all love to win the Super League but we know the quality of the opposition in front of us.

“It was great that we could finish 16 points clear of Wigan in second but on Friday night we are not going to be 16 in front.

“We have been rewarded with a week off and a home semi, but that is it now.

“Our biggest rivals are coming on Friday and determined to knock us off. The pats on the back for how well we have done all year are out of the window, we have to turn up.

“That is the only way we are going to win a Super League title. If we are good enough to win we have to do it again in two weeks.

“We are all clear with that.”