The Super League XXVIII campaign continues on Friday night as we head closer towards the end of what is becoming a fascinating regular season with so many stories beginning to come to the boil in the closing stages.
Just eight rounds remain after the current one and so playoff hopes are beginning to come to the prominence as is the aim of hosting a game and finishing in the top two and missing the first round completely. We have a TV game and one away from the cameras to enjoy on Friday.
St Helens vs Leeds Rhinos (20.00 – Sky Sports Main Event & Sky Sports Arena)
The TV game on Friday night comes from the Totally Wicked Stadium where St Helens will look to make up for their Challenge Cup exit last weekend when they host a refreshed Leeds Rhinos side in a repeat of the Grand Final from last season.
These two have met twice this season and there was one point between them at St Helens when Leeds won and then Saints got their revenge by the same margin in golden point extra time at Headingley so there is every reason to think that we could be in for something of a classic here. St Helens will be fuelled by motivation after bowing out of the cup last week but that defeat came at a price as Alex Walmsley and Agnatius Paasi had their season ended while Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook picked up an injury which will keep him out of this one. Curtis Sinonen and Joe Batchelor have been rested while Joey Lussick has upped sticks and gone back to Australia and Sione Mata’utia is suspended for this one. Saints do get James Roby and Mark Percival back from head injury protocols but they are still weakened. Leeds aren’t quite at full strength but they do have James Donaldson back from concussion and have half-back pair Blake Austin and Aidan Sezer available too. When you consider there has only been a point between them when the strength of both sides has been similar, the 6/4 on a Leeds win against a weakened St Helens looks a price well worth taking, particularly as they had last week off whereas the players who didn’t get injured for Saints had a real physical outing.
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Hull KR vs Castleford Tigers (20.00)
Away from the TV cameras on Friday night the Challenge Cup finalists Hull KR play host to Castleford Tigers in a match which is actually big for both sides but potentially more so for the visitors given that their Super League existence is under threat.
You would imagine there will be an inevitable comedown for Rovers here. Their win over Wigan last week was hard-fought and euphoric and the achievement immense so a routine home game against a struggling side would automatically bring complacency into play, without the potential for players to already have an eye on Wembley which is only 15 days away. Castleford should be relishing the challenge here. They have had a couple of weeks to dust themselves down and get ready for a hugely important final third of the season and they will go up against a potentially jaded side with their eyes on other things. If Castleford have anything about them they should at least challenge here if not win but they have got a few injuries to their back line which puts me off siding with them. I definitely won’t want to be riding the obvious Hull KR comedown so I’m happy to leave this one alone.
Back Leeds Rhinos to beat St Helens for a 3/10 stake at 2.50 with Bet365