Saints go into derby on back of winning streak

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The Independent Online

St Helens will have history as well as form on their side as they look to avenge their Grand Final defeat by Super League champions Wigan in the Good Friday derby at the DW Stadium.

Saints have won on each of their past three visits to Wigan and go into today's game on the back of a five-match winning run – the best in Super League – which has taken them to within a point of leaders Huddersfield.

Wigan coach Michael Maguire watched his side held to a draw by their arch-rivals in the opening game of the season in Cardiff and is expecting another difficult test.

"It will be a tough game," he said. "They are a team that have been bobbing along and playing very well. They have blooded a number of youngsters who have come through and performed. It is going to be a good test. I've seen the rivalry between Saints and Wigan from the day I walked in, they love playing each other and love beating each other."

It will be Wigan's first outing since Maguire confirmed he is to leave the club at the end of the season but Saints coach Royce Simmons is not expecting that announcement to cause any disruption for the champions.

"When you win a Premiership as a player or coach, there is a strong bond so I can't see it making any difference whatsoever," he said. "I wish it would.

"I have only met him a couple of times but he seems like an impressive bloke to me. When we played him in round one, after I'd been home for my father's funeral, he went out of his way to come and see me.

"It was a game where he had led 16-0 and it ended 16-16. You could be excused for not looking for the opposition coach because you might have been pretty cranky with the players.

"But he came out of his way and that shows the good qualities of the man. Obviously he is a very good coach and has a lot of discipline about him. That is another good quality.

"He wins the players' respect and gets the best out of them at the same time, which is what all good coaches do."