Both teams have made strong starts to the season and sit on 6 points with St Helens boasting a 100% record from their 3 games so far. Salford have played a game more, but only have a defeat to Leeds blotting their copybook so far.
There wouldn’t have been too many Salford fans who would have turned down this kind of start to the season. Having secured survival via the Qualifiers in 2018, the Red Devils are showing massive signs of improvement this time around.
That said, Saints will arguably be the best side they are likely to face all season, and disastrous spells mid-way through both halves against Leeds showed that Ian Watson’s outfit could be prone to capitulation against top quality sides.
Meanwhile, Justin Holbrook’s St Helens have been quietly efficient without being at their explosive best. The return of Alex Walmsley to their pack has been a big plus for the 2018 League Leaders Shield winners, whilst new singings Kevin Naiqama (missing with head injury) and Lachlan Coote (14/1 to score first) have bedded into the backline nicely.
On paper, Saints should have far too much fire power for the Red Devils to handle. Golden Boot winner Tommy Makinson and Wales international Regan Grace make their back three one of the most dangerous in the game, while the sheer size of the pack will be enough to keep the forwards busy.
Salford aren’t without a strikeforce of their own, Winger Ken Sio (12/1 to score first) has notched up four tries already this season, scoring in 3 out of four fixtures, whilst England Knights’ fullback Niall Evalds will require constant attention both as an attacking runner, but also as an extra pivot.
If the Red Devils are to upset the odds on Thursday evening, game management from key positions will be crucial. In Rob Lui and Jackson Hastings (5/2 anytime try scorer), Watson is blessed with one of the most dynamic halfback combinations in the league, and if Salford can play the game in the right areas of the pitch, they have the attacking structure to hurt any side.
The Red Devils look set to be without captain Lee Mossop while loose forward Mark Flanagan comes back into the side. Saints will be missing Naiqama and Danny Richardson, with Matty Costello and Jack Ashworth replacing them.