Rugby League: St Helens' healthy advantage is worry for Murray

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IF A SETTLED, healthy team is a pre-requisite, St Helens go into the match against Leeds tomorrow that separates them from the Super League Grand Final with a definite advantage.

Saints go to Headingley with the same 17 that accounted for Halifax last week, all fit and, by and large, in prime form. How Leeds would love the same luxury and certainty.

Their coach, Graham Murray, will not decide his team until tomorrow morning, at the earliest. He was feeling slightly more optimistic yesterday, however, after Adrian Morley, Marc Glanville and Terry Newton all came safely through their first training session since suffering their various injuries in the bruising affair at Wigan last Sunday.

"We will turn up the intensity at our last session and see how the boys respond," Murray said. "The medical team will continue to treat and monitor each injury and we will give the players every opportunity to prove their fitness."

Richie Blackmore will again play with pain-killing injections in his persistent groin injury, while Paul Newlove and Chris Joynt, both carrying slight knocks from Halifax, are fully fit for Saints.

With both sides at full strength, the suspicion would be that Saints' defence would not contain Leeds for 80 minutes. The continuing doubt about the home line-up, though, leaves the whole affair more delicately balanced.

It is a big day as well for Leeds' outstanding Academy team, who will be strong favourites to beat Wigan in their Grand Final, immediately before the big match at Headingley.

Leeds finished six points clear at the end of the regular season and the Wigan Academy coach, Billy McGinty, also believes that two gruelling single-point victories during the last week of a play-off series truncated by the unavailability of Old Trafford will handicap his side.

Lancashire Lynx can virtually make certain of a place in the final of the Treize Tournoi, if they repeat last week's victory over Villeneuve in France today. The club, who have signed the Oldham captain and scrum- half, Neil Flanagan, for next season, are the only English team with two wins so far in the tournament.

Australia completed their recovery from their first Test defeat by New Zealand by clinching the series 2-1 at North Harbour in Auckland yesterday. The Brisbane centre Steve Renouf scored two tries as Australia won by a convincing 36-16 margin, sending New Zealand to Britain for the Lincoln Test series on the back of two successive defeats.