Noble on Wigan v St Helens

Carnegie Challenge Cup semi-final - Wigan v St Helens

Venue:
Halliwell Jones Stadium, Warrington
Date:
Saturday 6 August
Kick-off:
1630 BST
Coverage:
Live on BBC Two; commentary on BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra, BBC Radio Merseyside and BBC Radio Manchester; score updates on BBC Radio 5 live & the BBC Sport website
James Graham and Lee Mossop
James Graham of St Helens tries to get away from Wigan's Lee Mossop

Given the local rivalry between Wigan and St Helens, you will see a lot of families in dispute when it comes to Saturday's game and both sides will be equally as hungry to reach the Wembley final.

Saints have enjoyed plenty of success over the past few years, winning the Super League and the Challenge Cup, but Wigan are now starting to get back into the ascendancy, following their win in last year's Grand Final.

Saints certainly have the game to disrupt Wigan but they have to play smart. In two of the three games they have played this season, Wigan have blown them away at the start so Saints will need to be there or thereabouts after the first 20 minutes. They also will have to be strong around the ruck area and try to stop Wigan getting over the whitewash.

Wigan have good ball players in Sam Tomkins, Thomas Leuluai and Brett Finch and they also have the running game of Pat Richards. They are getting better and better as the season has gone on, and in their last two games over Warrington and Hull they had to play tough to win.

There has been a lot written about Tomkins coming into the game and who wouldn't want to watch him - whatever code of rugby you follow. He is competitive, quick, skilful and deceptively strong for someone who looks so slight.

But Saints also have strong forward power in Tony Puletua, Sia Soliola, James Graham and Chris Flannery and they now have Leon Pryce back in the fold after injury and he is a potential game-breaker.

It will be an interesting conundrum for coach Royce Simmons over whether he starts with Jonny Lomax and Lee Gaskell in the halves, who have done well this season, or whether he goes with the experience of Kyle Eastmond and Leon Pryce.

The influence of James Roby will also be key and it was a relief that he was cleared to play by the Rugby Football League's disciplinary committee because you want your big players to be playing in games like this and he is an outstanding player, probably one of the best in the world.

They have a well-balanced game and are well capable of scoring points and if they explode, they can be dangerous.

But I think Wigan will nick it by doing the percentage things better - looking after the ball, playing quicker and being more physical and I think that will hurt Saints as the game goes on.

Brian Noble was speaking to BBC Sport's Elizabeth Hudson

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