Super League Sunday Preview
The Sports Gazette looks ahead to today's Super League fixtures
Bradford Bulls (10th) vs Wigan Warriors (5th): 3pm
Bradford got their season up and running with a hard fought victory away at Castleford last week, but face a very tough ask if they wish to extend their winning run this season. Wigan produced one of their finest performances in recent memories in beating the Leeds Rhinos, now officially the best side in the world, last weekend.
Bradford’s cause isn’t helped by the loss of new signing Adrian Purtell, who tore his pectoral muscle in last weekend’s 20-12 victory over the Castleford Tigers. Keith Lulia, who is close to full fitness following a hamstring strain suffered in pre-season, is expected to make his debut in Purtell’s absence. The Bulls are also without James Donaldson and Ian Sibbit with the long-term injuries. Michael Platt is added to the Bulls 19 man squad for this game.
The Warriors are able to welcome back Liam Farrell from suspension to add extra power in the forwards, although they are still without centre George Carmont, whose broken thumb will see him out for the next month. Josh Charnley will continue on the wing, following his maiden hat-trick last week against the Rhinos. Joe Mellor and Anthony Gelling are both included in the Warrior’s 19 man squad as they look to build on last week’s fantastic victory.
Match Forecast: Wigan had the wood over Bradford last year, scoring over 100 points in the three league and cup meetings, and they looked mightily impressive in last week’s win over the Rhinos although they do have to be wary of today being after the Lord Mayor’s show. Bradford too will be buoyed by their first win of the season, and while it is impossible to look past the Warriors for this one, they have to ensure that they are professional.
Best Bet: These games were high scoring affairs last year and with that in mind Over 9.5 tries (11/10 with Betfred) could well be on the cards. You can also get John Charnley at (12/1 with Skybet) to make it back to back hat-tricks.
Hull KR (9th) vs St Helens (3rd): 3pm
St Helens will be looking to go top of the early season table with a win today, but they are aware that they have lost on their last three visits to Craven Park.
The home side got their first win of the season last time out against Wakefield but it came at a cost as they lost scrum-half Michael Dobson who suffered a shoulder injury during the game. Dobson is expected to be out for a month and his place will be filled by either Lincoln Withers or Craig Hall. Prop Liam Watts has been called into the Robins squad for the first time this season.
The Saints welcome back full back and former man-of-steel Paul Wellens, young winger Jamie Foster and centre Michael Shenton, although they are still without new Aussie signing Mark Flanagan with a chest injury and stand-off Lee Gaskell is absent with a leg injury.
Match Forecast: Hull KR won this fixture 24-22 last year but it is hard to see a repeat of that result this year. Expect the Saints to put right their recent poor form at Craven Park but it will be a close fought game.
Best Bet: St Helens to win by 11-15 points (7/1 Betfred). The returning trio of Wellens, Foster and Shenton will be a big boost, expect them to feature prominently in a Saints win.
Widnes Vikings (14th) vs Salford City Reds (12th): 3pm
Two sides searching for their first win of the season meet at the Stobart Stadium on Sunday. The game will be played on Widnes’s controversial new i-pitch which came in for criticism from Wakefield players after they played their on the opening night of the season.
Widnes’ cause has not been helped this week by the suspension of three players following a breach of club discipline. Hooker Scott Moore and Back rowers Hep Cahill and Simon Finnegan are all suspended although no reason has been made public by the club. Dennis Betts is at least able to welcome back captain Jon Clarke, who missed the Vikings 66-6 hammering by Huddersfield last weekend as well as stand-off Anthony Watts.
The Reds first half showing against St Helens will give them much reason for optimism, and although they fell away in the second half, the signs were very encouraging. Joel Moon will miss out through injury being replaced by Sean Gleeson in the centres. Second rower Vinnie Anderson and props Iaeta Paleaaesina and Jordan James are also back from injury for the visitors.
Match Forecast: These two sides have not met for seven seasons in the Super League so there is little recent form to go on. While the I-pitch will give the home side a little edge this season, they do look out of their depth at this level currently. Given all the off-field problems as well this has to be marked down as an away win.
Best Bet: Chris Nero to score two or more tries (7/1 Skybet) the experienced centre/second row should enjoy his run out against this leaky Widnes defence, especially as the Widnes pack will be stretched following the treble suspension. Good value can also be found in Salford to win by 21-30 points (13/2 PaddyPower)
Hull FC (11th) vs London Broncos (13th): 5 45pm Live on Sky Sports 1
London Broncos make a long trip (well they are all pretty long for them) up to Hull in search of their first points of the season to take on a Hull side who are the only side to have taken points of the Warrington Wolves so far this season.
Hull lost their game against the Catalans last week to the weather and have a full squad to choose from thanks to the extra weeks rest. Australian scrum-half Brett Seymour will make his debut having recovered from a pre-season knee injury, with his deputy Danny Niklaus expected to drop to the bench.
The Broncos have named an unchanged 19 man squad from last weekend’s hammering by the Warrington Wolves. Boss Rob Powell will still be without Liam Colbon, Dan Sarginson and Karl Temata who are on the long term injury list.
Match Forecast: Hull have only lost one of their last six meetings with the Broncos, and that was at the 2010 Magic Weekend at Murrayfield. Expect them to continue this run here.
Best Bet: The Broncos are shipping points alarmingly so far this season and this Hull side will make them pay. Hull to win by 26-30 points (9/1 BetVictor) look good odds.