Points advantage is spur for Saints

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The Independent Online
St Helens can give themselves the psychological boost of going four points clear of Wigan at the top of the European Super League if they beat London Broncos tomorrow.

Wigan's previous commitment at the Middlesex Sevens today means that Saints could open up a handy gap between them and their main rivals.

"Points in the bag are always the thing to have," Saints' chief executive, David Howes, said. "But don't mention that to Kevin Keegan. As Newcastle found out, there is a different type of pressure that comes with being clear at the top, with every other side raising its game against you."

For tomorrow evening's game at Knowsley Road, Saints have Scott Gibbs back in the centres after flu, with Alan Hunte dropping down to the substitutes' bench.

The London coach, Tony Currie, rates St Helens as the best team in Britain at the moment, but his own side have been performing admirably, including coming back from an 18-point deficit to win at Leeds last week. Broncos welcome back Greg Barwick at full-back after injury and move Peter Gill to loose-forward to cover for the absence of the suspended Terry Matterson.

Currie believes that his side's recent form is attributable, in part, to the hard line he has taken on discipline. "Since I sacked three players, nobody has been late for training and we have won both our games," he said.

"We have three new players arriving from Australia next week and Ikram Butt coming out of jail. So I'm happy that, even without those three, our squad is very strong."

The other match with implications for the top of the table is at Warrington, where Shef- field Eagles are the visitors.

Warrington have told their players to forget all about playing rugby union in the winter, but Wigan have no inhibitions about playing that game this afternoon at Twickenham.

The portents for them doing well are good. Second Division Bramley played in the Leeds Sevens last week and became the first league side to win a union trophy.

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