20th September 2017, 09:26 | StHelens

Holbrook urges St Helens to secure semi-final spot against Salford

Holbrook urges St Helens to secure semi-final spot against Salford

St Helens coach Justin Holbrook is urging his Betfred Super League title-chasing players not to let the opportunity slip through their grasp.

Holbrook's men are one of four teams still in with a chance of claiming the two vacant semi-final spots going into the last round of the Super 8s and will have the first opportunity to book their place when they take on Salford Red Devils at the AJ Bell Stadium on Thursday night.

Victory would take them above third-placed Hull FC, who face leaders Castleford Tigers in their last match on Friday, but defeat would see them overtaken by the winners of Saturday's clash between Wakefield Trinty and Wigan Warriors.

"Going into the last round knowing that we've finally got it in our own hands, it's obviously a much better position to be in, that's for sure," said Holbrook. "It's a good feeling."

Salford have only pride to play for but Holbrook is not expecting an easy ride from Ian Watson's side, who were 22-14 winners over Saints at the AJ Bell Stadium in March and lost 25-24 to a last-gasp Matty Smith drop goal in the reverse fixture in June.

"Obviously it's better that they can't make the four but I don't think it's an opportunity to take them lightly," said Holbrook, whose side have put together back-to-back victories to rekindle their Grand Final hopes.

"Castleford and Leeds have shown that, they've been delivering every week knowing that they're going to be in the four.

"We've got a big game to play on Thursday and that's what our focus is on. We want to go there and play well.

"Obviously winning our last two helps that but even in the games we've lost I still felt we've been playing well. You need that momentum at this time of the year."

The Red Devils were themselves challenging strongly for the semi-finals at the halfway stage but have fallen away badly, winning just two of their last 13 league games, and assistant coach Willie Poching is stressing the importance of finishing on a high.

"We want the performance to reflect how we have played, particularly in the earlier part of the season, so that puts a great focus on us because it can leave a bitter taste in your mouth if your last game is below par," Poching said.

"It's a long time to the next outing in order to put things right and you really don't want to be coming back to pre-season with a poor performance still hanging over you."

Holbrook has pinpointed a trio of overseas players as the biggest threats to his side's ambition. 

"They've got a few," he said. "Obviously Robert Lui is an outstanding player and he's been good all year, there's Junior Sa'u and Manu Vatuvei, there's plenty of players with experience there so we need to play well."