Our 18th man columnists predict how the top-five will shape, and give their thoughts on Morgan Escare's Wigan future...
Three rounds, seven teams in the race for a play-offs spots - predict the finishing top-five...
Robert Kenyon: I think the Challenge Cup Final will suppress Warrington’s appetite, burst Saints’ bubble and allow us to carry on our momentum.
1. St Helens.
David Bailey: I just think Wigan have got the bit between their teeth and will win their last three games, whilst their rivals won’t.
Things are looking up at the Warriors at the
1. St Helens.
Jon Lyon: I’m predicting three straight wins for in-form Wigan with Warrington dropping off and us just edging Hull into second on points difference, thanks to our quality defence and Hull’s tendency to win by 50 points one week and struggle to score the next.
1. St Helens.
Jeanette Lusher: My feelings are that Wigan will win all three of their remaining fixtures to consolidate the second spot, especially with two of their games being at
home. The hunger and desire of the team over the last 10 fixtures has been testament to what the lads know they can achieve.
Everyone linked to the club has kept the faith through some dark days and now all seems to be coming together at the right time.
Play in both attack and defence has improved dramatically and still Lammy feels that the team can raise its game a further two or three levels.
What was at one time considered by many pundits to be the impossible is now very achievable indeed and I cannot see our lads slipping up.
1. St Helens
3. Hull FC
Do you think Morgan Escare has a future with Wigan?
Robert Kenyon: No. Otherwise he’d have played more games.
There’s obviously others reasons why he wasn’t picked but we don’t know them.
Last year he was one of our most exciting players to watch so it seemed baffling he wasn’t getting a chance.
If he isn’t to get a chance for whatever reason then for the good of his career he needs to go.
Thank you and good luck for the rest of your career.
David Bailey: Sadly, I think we have seen the last of Escare in Cherry and White.
I think that despite injuries on the flanks, the fact Escare has been continually overlooked and sent to Wakefield shows how far down he is in the pecking order.
Electrifying on his day
but obviously Lam and previously Wane just don’t fancy him.
He won’t dislodge Hardaker from the full-back slot so we just have to thank him for his contribution last season and wish him well.
Jon Lyon: No. If Lammy was picking Sarginson at full-back ahead of Morgan even before Bevan French arrived then I really don’t see a way back for him.
It would take an injury crisis of epic proportions for Escare to play with any regularity at Wigan again (something that is sadly not impossible given our injuries the last few seasons).
I hope he does well at Wakefield, apart from on Sunday, and earns himself a contract somewhere for next year as he is wasted in our reserves.
I like his attitude and he has always done his best for the club, I just don’t think he is quite there as a player at the very highest level.
This seems to be something several coaches agree with given his playing time at the end of his Catalans career as well as at Wigan.
That said, he has given us some exciting moments at times when the team were struggling and will be fondly remembered by fans at Wigan.
Jeanette Lusher: I rather think not.
Morgan certainly has skill and passion but he is not of the same calibre as Zak Hardaker or Bevan French.
I am pleased though that he is getting game time at Wakefield.
He now has an opportunity to manifest his skills and to put himself in the shop window.
He has proven his worth thus far to Wakefield and I hope that he is offered a contract with them for the future.
I am confident that behind a huge pack Morgan with his pace and maverick way of play will be able to do plenty of damage to any opposition and thus prove himself to be an
asset to any club.
Are St Helens under more pressure after losing the Challenge Cup Final?
Robert Kenyon: Massively, that’s three out of three occasions that Saints have bottled it on the big stage.
It seems ironic that their ground is built on the famous old UGB site where they made bottles.
And if anyone wants to know how to stop global warming melting the ice caps ask Lachlan Coote how to solve it, on the hottest day of the year he somehow managed to freeze. Saints will have the monkey on their backs now, Holbrook has been a good coach for them and turned them into a very good side, if they can’t win a trophy with Holbrook in charge then I don’t see anyone else doing so.
The pressure is most certainly on.
David Bailey: The cracks are showing once again over Billinge Hill.
Saints’ record in huge games over the last 10 years is dreadful and their solitary success came courtesy of Ben Flower. I honestly fancy Wigan or Warrington to defeat Saints at Old Trafford.
The League Leader’s Shield is third on the list of trophies to be won and Holbrook
won’t be deemed a success unless he wins the Grand Final. Game on.
Jon Lyon: Absolutely they are, and the way they have handled pressure the last 14 months must be very worrying for Justin Holbrook. There can’t have been bigger favourites for a cup final since Wigan played Sheffield Eagles in 1998, and well, we know how that went as well.
Saints fans can complain about the shocking decision by Robert Hicks not to go to the video referee for Morgan Knowles’ early attempt, but there were still 73 minutes left with the game at 0-0, so this wasn’t the deciding factor.
I can’t remember the last time I saw Saints make so many handling errors and bad decisions.
Lachlan Coote, probably my Man of Steel so far this year, had by far his worst game of the season.
Is he falling by the wayside late in the year just as Ben Barba did last season?
Probably not to the same extent but yet another collapse under pressure must have Saints fans panicking having looked nailed on for the treble a few weeks ago.
Given Wigan’s ever improving form, if we were to meet Saints in the Grand Final, if they even get that far, then I feel increasingly confident we could pull off what would still be regarded as an upset.
Now that would be sweeter than an Uncle Joe’s Mint Ball.
Jeanette Lusher: No, I don’t feel that Saints are under any more pressure.
Warrington got it right.
They disrupted Saints’ way of play by getting into their faces and stifling any offloads.
Saints subsequently made many uncharacteristic mistakes and were perhaps a little overawed by the occasion. This Saints team is mentally very tough so I feel that the squad will move on from the loss at Wembley with reinvigorated efforts to secure the 2019 Grand Final Championship.
Their home game against Castleford on Friday provides the perfect setting for the players to refocus and to put the disappointment of Wembley behind them.
Especially with the game being on Sky and with the long awaited presentation of the League Leader’s Shield being made.