There are three rounds left in the Super League season and while we know who will be competing in the play-offs next month we do not yet know who will be playing who. That picture might get a little clearer on Thursday night when the Castleford Tigers host the Huddersfield Giants.
Castleford are guaranteed another postseason but will be eager to avoid a trip to St Helens in the semi-final. Huddersfield’s chances of making it into the play-offs ended last week so pride is their only motivation here.
The Tigers head into this match off the back of a win over Hull FC last week, and while you can never criticise a team for winning, they will know deep down that they didn’t play very well. It could be that their performance was a victim of the nonsense system that Super League is currently enduring but either way they will want to improve.
Hull FC actually had a few chances to score more points than they did which will disappoint Daryl Powell and his side. On the flip side of that the Tigers are pretty potent in attack so if they can tighten up in defence Old Trafford certainly isn’t beyond them. While wins may not mean much competitively momentum could be important.
The Giants have been a good side since Simon Woolford took over but they had left themselves with too much to do after their poor start to the campaign when it came to finishing well enough to claim a semi-final spot. Nevertheless, they have shown a great deal of improvement under the Australian which is positive.
Sometimes at this stage of a season teams with nothing competitive to play for can be forgiven for easing up after what has been a long campaign but if Huddersfield want to get themselves in among the best next term I believe they need to finish this season strongly to give themselves some confidence and belief to take into next season.
Jesse Sene-Lafao and Greg Minikin come into the Castleford Tigers squad for this match with Oliver Holmes exiting due to an injury he sustained last week. Will Maher is the other player to have made way.
Huddersfield Giants have rung some changes with Leroy Cudjoe, Jermaine McGillvary and Alex Mellor dropping out of the squad. Danny Brough does play while Kruise Leeming keeps his place in the reckoning.
Had this been a competitive fixture I’m not so sure Castleford Tigers would have been asked to give up 16pts on the handicap. Huddersfield Giants will have been rated a lot better than that but I think the bookmakers may have been too early to write the Giants off on holiday.
In fairness, there is that chance that Huddersfield can’t get up for this and we should recognise that but on the flip side this is a Yorkshire derby and their Australian coach will undoubtedly demand them to finish the season strongly. Regardless of the situation of the game I would expect Castleford to win but 16pts is a lot to cover. I’ll ride Huddersfield on that handicap.
Back Huddersfield Giants (+16) to beat Castleford Tigers for a 4/10 stake at 2.00 with Coral