Round 2 Super League Preview
The Sports Gazette takes a look at this weekend's Super League fixtures, including the repeat of last year's Challenge Cup Final between Wigan and Leeds
Catalan Dragons (2nd) vs Hull FC (7th): POSTPONED
Wigan Warriors (9th) vs Leeds Rhinos (3rd): Saturday 5 45 (Live on Sky Sports 1)
A repeat of last season’s Challenge Cup Final sees Wigan looking to bounce back from last week’s 20-16 home defeat against the Huddersfield Giants against reigning Super League Champions Leeds Rhinos. The Rhinos saw off Hull KR in the season’s opener last week and will be looking to get an early march on another of their Play-Off rivals.
The Warriors will be without two key players for this clash with experienced Kiwi centre George Carmont out for up to a month with a broken thumb sustained during last week’s surprise defeat to the Giants. Try scorer last week Liam Farrell picked up a one game suspension for a dangerous tackle and he will be missing for this game as well.
The Rhino’s on the other hand have an almost clean bill of health and can even again leave out Ian Kirke and Ben Jones-Bishop, both of who played in last season’s Grand Final. Ian Watkins will miss out with a wrist injury and there is a slight doubt over the match fitness of second-row powerhouse Jamie Jones-Buchanan who sat out training all week, but he has been named in the squad for the game.
Match Forecast: The corresponding fixture was one of the games of the season with Wigan holding out to win 24-22. Wigan will be smarting after last week’s defeat and will be desperate to put in a big performance, but I think this Leeds squad may have enough to sneak a narrow victory.
Best Bet: Half Time/Full Time Wigan/ Leeds (9/1 Boylesports). Neither side will run away with this so expect a nip and tuck game with the lead changing hands often.
Huddersfield Giants (6th) vs Widnes Vikings (12th): Sunday 3
Huddersfield will be looking to consolidate last week’s excellent win away at Wigan by doing a professional job over new boys Widnes.
The Giants welcome back captain Kevin Brown and Dale Ferguson who both missed the win at the DW Stadium. Two try hero of the game, second rower Larne Patrick, is fit enough to start the game this week, as he recovers from wrist surgery. However, they are still without the suspended Tony Tonks.
The Vikings game against Wakefield last week will as much be remembered for the debate over the I-pitch than any of the action on it. Many of the players complaining that the artificial surface coupled with the cold weather turned the I-pitch into concrete. Dennis Betts’ men were comfortably brushed aside by the Wildcats on their return to the Super League. They will be without skipper Jon Clarke as well as centre Stefan Marsh with ex-Giant Simon Finnegan coming into the squad.
Match Forecast: Huddersfield surprised a lot with their victory last week over Wigan but it will mean nothing if they do not get the points here tonight. Widnes looked second best last week against a decent Wakefield side, and this Giants outfit will again be too strong.
Best Bet: In what promises to be a try-fest for the home side, Scott Grix (11/2 SkyBet) to score two tries or more looks a good bet. The utility-back, likely to be deployed at Full-Back on Sunday, loves joining the attacking line and should get on the score sheet here.
Warrington Wolves (8th) vs London Broncos (10th): Sunday 3
The Wolves had the Indian sign over the Broncos last year scored 136 points in the two games they played. This included an 82-6 win at the Halliwell Jones stadium.
Warrington, who won the regular season last year, opened up this season with a 20-20 draw against Hull FC. Ben Westwood could have won the game in the dying minutes but he missed a late conversion. Matt Cook and David Howell both return to the Giants line-up after missing last weeks draw, the players to make way being Micky Higham and Rhys Williams.
The Broncos put up a spirited display in their game against St Helens going down 34-24 in the end. Coach Rob Powell, who was in charge of the heavy defeats last season, still can’t call upon the services of Dan Sarginson and Karl Temata, who are both still injured.
Match Forecast: Warrington are red-hot favourites for this game and they will be looking to make up for the dropped point last week. The Broncos are a better side than last year, so don’t expect a cricket score, but the Wolves will have enough to win this one.
Best Bet: Warrington to win by 31-35 points (10/1 Ladbrokes). Expect the Wolves to win this one comfortably to kick start their season.
Castleford Tigers (5th) vs Bradford Bulls (13th): Sunday 3 30
The Tigers ruined Salford’s big night at their new stadium last week with a comeback win, whilst the Bulls were comprehensively beaten by the Catalan Dragons. Castleford snuck home in this fixture last season winning 34-30 thanks to two tries from Joe Arundel.
The home side will be able to hand home debuts to Josh Griffin, Lee Mitchell and Steve Nash as well as recalling Ryan Hudson and James Grehan to the 19 man squad for the game.
The Bulls only make one change for this game, following their heavy defeat at Odsal to the French outfit, with Elliot Whitehead, who has just completed a five match ban for biting, replacing the injured John Bateman.
Match Forecast: The Tigers should make it two wins from two when the sides meet at the Jungle on Sunday. They will have too much for a Bradford side who looked poor last week against the Dragons.
Best Bet: Castleford to win by 21-25 point (14/1 Stan James). The Tigers home advantage will help them, and Bradford’s slow start to the season does not give their fans much cause for optimism.
Wakefield Trinity Wildcats (4th) vs Hull KR (11th): Sunday 3 30
This has all the makings for a tight-tense affair between two very evenly matched teams. Last year’s game was decided in the Wildcats favour with Kieran Hyde’s penalty after the whistle had gone giving them a 26-24 victory.
The Wildcats safely negotiated Widnes’s new I-Pitch last weekend, to come away with the victory. The home side will be without Kyle Amor, who scored in this fixture last year, who broke his hand in last week’s victory. Frankie Mariano or Kyle Trout will take Amor’s place in the squad.
Hull KR proved they will be no pushovers this season with a spirited display against reigning champions Leeds. They will still be without captain Ben Galea with Graeme Horne continuing in his absence. Sam Latus and Jason Netherton will be added to the 19 man squad for the game, but otherwise it is an unchanged Hull side.
Match Forecast: This is a tough game to call and it could well be as close as last year’s epic. Hull’s performance last week will give them heart and they would be my narrow pick for this game.
Best Bet: Hull KR to win by 6-10 points (11/2 Paddy Power) is the best value to be found in this one.
Last Weekends Predictions:
5 out of 7 correct results.
1 correct score
£5 stake on the Best Bets would have £25 profit.