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Tuesday, 8 May, 2001, 15:45 GMT 16:45 UK
Saints seek Super League boost
Saints celebrate victory over Bradford in the Challenge Cup final
Saints have stumbled despite their Challenge Cup win
Challenge Cup winners St Helens aim to get their faltering Super League title defence back on track when they meet Castleford at Knowsley Road on Wednesday.

Saints will be looking to redeem themselves following their 74-16 mauling by Leeds - the second heaviest defeat in their 106-year history - and the 56-22 pre-Twickenham thrashing at Warrington.

A fourth league defeat would send St Helens tumbling out of the top five for the first time since the inception of Super League in 1996 and leave them six points adrift of Bradford.

We don't expect anything bar four points from these two games... anything less will be very disappointing
  Ian Millward

Wednesday's tussle with the Tigers is followed on Friday by the visit of Halifax, but coach Ian Millward is looking to claim maximum points from the two home games to make up for the side's away-day blues.

"It's a big ask but one of the reasons we've got to do it is because we were successful in the Challenge Cup," he said.

"Mentally and physically, it's very draining but we don't expect anything bar four points from these two games. Anything less will be very disappointing."

Saints have lost at home only twice in 14 months under Millward, who clearly believes that the humiliations at Wilderspool and Headingley were merely hiccups in the club's long-term strategy.

Aaron Raper
Raper will miss the clash with Saints
"We're going all right," he said. "These things happen. You can't dwell on them, you've just got to learn from them."

Castleford, who can leapfrog Saints into fifth spot, came within a whisker of beating Bradford in their last match and have realistic hopes of achieving their first ever Super League victory at Knowsley Road.

Tigers boss Stuart Raper will, however, be warning his players to prepare for a backlash as St Helens appear in front of their own fans for the first time since their Twickenham triumph.

"We've always got them at a bad time in the past and it's probably no different this week," he said.

"They're a good side, they're the world club champions, and they're expected to bounce back so that's a bit of pressure on them.

No one is expecting us to win so we'll just go for broke and see what happens
  Stuart Raper

"There's no pressure on us so we'll just go there and play some footie. Again no one is expecting us to win so we'll just go for broke and see what happens."

The Tigers are without influential hooker Aaron Raper and prop Nathan Sykes while skipper Adrian Vowles and scrum-half Mitch Healey are likely to be other high-profile absentees.

Saints are still without stand-off Tommy Martyn, who is due to undergo groin surgery this week, and centre Paul Newlove (hamstring) while full-back Paul Wellens will have a late fitness test on his injured ankle.

Millward brings in back row forward Mark Edmondson, 21, for his first appearance of the season.

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