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2002 Match Preview: St Helens (H)
Match Preview: Saints Match Preview Posted on Tuesday, July 30 2002 @ 01:17:36 BST by Bilko


Wigan coach Stuart Raper will delay naming his team for the big derby against St Helens until an hour before kick off in the hope that three players facing fitness tests will be fit for the game.

But is this just mind games from Mr Raper?


Wigan Warriors v St Helens
Tetleys Super League Round 18 at JJB Stadium.
Tuesday 30th July 2002. Kick Off 8:05pm

Previously postponed from July 12th because of the GB v Australia Test Match.

Meet the Saints

Well before last weeks game against Widnes, Raper named Terry Newton in the starting line up after saying he would be rested, but didn't play him on the day, so it could be just mind games.

The club say that Front Row forwards Terry Newton and Terry O'Connor (foot) will undergo late fitness tests, along with back rower Dave Furner ahead of the big clash.

With Andy Farrell, Kris Radlinski, Paul Johnson, Brett Dallas, Brian Carney and Sean O'Loughlin all definitely out it is going to take one hell of an effort to beat a Saints team in red hot form.

Young winger Sean Briscoe, who made his Super League debut a fortnight ago, reserve scrum-half Luke Robinson and forward Stuart Jones have all been drafted into the squad.

Saints, are going for an 11th straight win to draw level with leaders Bradford Bulls and are virtually at full strength, with stand-off Tommy Martyn and second rower John Stankevitch returning from injury and illness.

Their only long-term casualty is Tim Jonkers, although hooker Keiron Cunningham is a serious doubt after suffering a recurrence of a bicep injury against Halifax.

Wigan coach Stuart Raper said: "Obviously with the injury situation, we'll go in there as underdogs but we've been there before and it doesn't bother us,"

"It's not ideal but I've got to say the guys who are training have got their minds on the job and even the ones who are injured want to play," said Raper.

"I'm not contemplating losing, I've prepared my side to win. They're keen to play and whoever pulls a Wigan short on will do the club proud. I've got every faith in all the players in my squad.

"St Helens won't underestimate us. If they come in too confident, they could be in for a shock. But I don't think they will because they know it's a derby."

The situation is reminiscent of April's Challenge Cup final in Edinburgh, where St Helens were hot favourites to retain the trophy against an out-of-sorts Wigan side with illness and injury worries.

The Warriors, beaten 19-0 by Saints in the opening derby fixture four weeks earlier, turned the tables to triumph 21-12 at Murrayfield and Ian Millward's men are no doubt still smarting from that shock.

But Saints have lost only one of 12 League games since then and have come to regard the JJB Stadium as their second home.

Although they lost twice to their derby hosts towards the end of last season, they have lost just one of their previous three League matches there and have twice won Cup semi-finals at the JJB Stadium.

They also have the chance to open up a seven-point gap on their arch rivals, which would effectively rule Wigan out of a top-two finish.

Saints Player to Watch.

Tommy Martyn

Tommy by all accounts is having a poor season but he is still a player that can cause Wigan problems.

Of course there are many other Saints players to watch like Paul Sculthorpe and Keiron Cunningham but Tommy always seems to put in a top performance against Wigan.

One bit of magic from him swung the first league game between the sides, Saints way, so he has got to be controlled.

Team News

Wigan - Wigan coach Stuart Raper will delay naming his squad until an hour before kick off in the hope that Terry Newton, Terry O'Connor and Dave Furner, who face fitness tests, will be fit for the game.

Team: (probable) Connolly, Ainscough, Wild, Hodgson, Aspinwall, O'Neill, Lam, O'Connor, Newton, C Smith, Tickle, Cassidy, Furner.
Subs: Bibey, Howard, Briscoe, M Smith.

Saints - Saints are virtually at full strength, with stand-off Tommy Martyn and second rower John Stankevitch returning from injury and illness. Their only long-term casualty is Tim Jonkers, although hooker Keiron Cunningham is a serious doubt after suffering a recurrence of a bicep injury against Halifax.

Team: Wellens, Albert, Gleeson, Newlove, Stewart, Martyn, Long, Britt, Cunningham, Shiels, Joynt, Bennett, Sculthorpe.
Subs: Hoppe, Ward, Nickle, Edmonson.

Kick Off at the JJB is 8:05pm
Referee: ??????
TV: Sky Sports 3
Radio: BBC GMR (full match)
Internet: via the BBC. See Internet section for details.

Match Day Weather

Light rain showers during the day The mini Heat Wave is over. Light rain showers are expected during a mostly cloudly day.

Temp: High: 18°C Low: 9°C
Wind: From the Northwest at 11 mph
Precip: 30%
Humidity: 82%



Click Here to visit the Saints Fanzine site on our network.

Note: Weather: Heavy Rain along with Thunder and Lightning in Wigan as of 12:30pm.

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