Rugby League: Wigan and Hull hit by bans

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WIGAN and Hull will both be without key forwards for their Regal Trophy semi-final on Saturday as a result of suspensions handed out yesterday.

Wigan's Kelvin Skerrett has been banned for five matches and Hull's Steve McNamara for four. Both were accused of high tackles and are appealing today. Hull, who have been named as the team of the month for December, have a doubt over their scrum-half Ivan Henjak who has a neck injury.

St Helens have a chance to go clear at the top of the First Division tomorrow, if their game at Widnes beats the weather. Jon Neill is doubtful with an ankle injury received in Sunday's breathtaking victory over Wigan, Kevin Ward is still suspended, but Jonathan Griffiths could return following a bereavement.

The Widnes coach, Phil Larder, was furious after Tuesday's inept display at Bradford. The forward substitute, Emosi Koloto, was one of the few to win any house points and is assured of a place in the starting line-up.

Les Holliday, John Devereux and Julian O'Neill will all need fitness tests, while Jonathan Davies, the subject of much speculation but no approach from other clubs, is two weeks away from his comeback.

Leeds will start against Salford with the side that finished in such style against Castleford on Saturday, Simon Irving continuing in place of Carl Gibson.

Salford, more than a month without a game, thanks to this season's chaotic fixture pattern, will have no fewer than five former Leeds players in their 15: Phil Ford, David Cruickshank, Craig Coleman, David Young and Rob Ackerman.

Allan Agar, in charge for the first time as caretaker at Halifax, has been studying the video of the heavy defeat at Leeds, which led to the departure of his predecessor Roger Millward.

'I watched it once as a neutral and it was bad enough, but it looks a lot worse when you have responsibility for it,' he said.

Among the changes in the side to play at Sheffield will be a move back to scrum-half for Paul Bishop and the return after injury of Greg Austin.