It is a big night of Super League action on Friday when 10 of the 12 teams are on show in an evening which has a feeling of being pretty significant about it, especially at the lower end of the table when the battle to avoid the drop is intensifying.
If we are honest, given that St Helens are blazing an uncatchable trail at the top of the pile, it is only the race to avoid relegation into the Championship which is keeping this regular season remotely interesting.
Friday’s fixtures are as follows:
Huddersfield Giants v Catalans Dragons
Leeds Rhinos v Hull Kingston Rovers
St Helens v Wigan Warriors
Wakefield Trinity v Castleford Tigers
Warrington Wolves v Salford Red Devils
Controversially to some the TV game on Friday night is not the big derby between St Helens and Wigan Warriors. This might be the first time in the Super League era that the derby hasn’t been televised live but it kind of shows how far clear St Helens are of the rest right now. The match that is on the TV sees the Leeds Rhinos taking on Hull KR in a match that is going to have big implications on that intensifying relegation battle. It is a match that Hull KR in particular can’t really afford to lose.
The other side still embroiled in that race to beat the drop are Huddersfield Giants and they will be looking to beat a Catalans Dragons side who don’t always travel as well as they should go. Wakefield Trinity and Salford Red Devils can still get reeled into trouble so they will be looking for two points on Friday night. Wakefield host the Castleford Tigers while the Red Devils make the short trip to take on the Warrington Wolves.
I’m sticking to the big matches for my bets where I’m expecting a closer match than the bookmakers seem to be at Headingley. Both sides know what this match will mean to the overall picture and as such I’m expecting this to be a really competitive and tense battle. There are a lot of former Leeds players in the Hull KR ranks who will be fired up to perform in this match so I’m a little surprised that the visitors are in receipt of an eight point start. While they got walloped by Wigan last week, Rovers have been a lot more competitive under Tony Smith. Leeds are showing signs of improvement but they don’t completely convince me yet and while they might win this one I’m not convinced they do it by more than a score. I’ll take Rovers with the start.
St Helens are by far the best team in Super League at the minute and they have shown their dominance over Wigan Warriors twice already and I expect them to do that for a third time here. Wigan are making better strides and a bit of solidity in their set up is no doubt helping that but they remain a much better side with Sean O’Loughlin in it and I always fear for them when he is absent, especially in the big matches. To make matters worse for Wigan here it looks like the leaders will have James Roby back from injury so they might only look even better for this encounter. Justin Holbrook has come out and criticised the decision not to show this one live and I wouldn’t be surprised if he sends his team out to prove a point and show the world what they missed. The leaders can cover 10pts in this one.
WON – Back Hull KR (+8) to beat Leeds Rhinos for a 4/10 stake at 2.00 with William Hill
Back them here:
WON – Back St Helens (-10) to beat Wigan Warriors for a 4/10 stake at 1.83 with Coral