The Super League XXVIII returns to familiar surroundings on Friday evening after the highs of the Magic Weekend and it does so with three more matches taking place with sides looking to gather themselves ahead of the run-in.
As ever on a Friday night we have a televised game to look forward to, which this week is a huge rivalry clash, while the other two matches taking place on the evening will get regular updates on the TV coverage.
St Helens vs Wigan Warriors (20.00 – Sky Main Event & Sky Sports Arena)
The televised cameras head to the Totally Wicked Stadium on Friday night for the huge derby clash between St Helens and Wigan Warriors, one which sees two teams who had completely different Magic Weekend experiences going against each other.
Saints absolutely demolished Huddersfield Giants last week while the Wigan Warriors were given a bit of a going over by the Catalans Dragons. That has led to the champions being required to give up eight points by the bookmakers for this one. That feels a couple of points too many but the way Wigan defended last week is certainly enough of a concern when it comes to considering whether to side with them in receipt of those eight points on the handicap. St Helens get Morgan Knowles back for this match too which might make them a stronger force but Wigan are likely to put up a real fight. If I was going to back anything in this one it would be for St Helens to win by 1-12 points but the way that Wigan defence was ripped apart last week is more than enough of a concern for me to sit this one out.
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Castleford Tigers vs Salford Red Devils (20.00)
It might be that the most entertaining match of the three on Friday evening is the one from The Jungle where two teams who won at Magic Weekend meet when the Castleford Tigers play host to the Salford Red Devils.
The Tigers needed their win at St James’ Park as they had only won two matches prior to that and still the only teams they have beaten this term are Leeds Rhinos, who they have overcome twice, and Wakefield Trinity who everyone beat. That leaves the Tigers with plenty still to prove but some confidence behind them with which to try and do it. Salford Red Devils outlasted Hull KR on Tyneside last week but remain without Andy Ackers for this one. Castleford will be missing the banned Liam Watts and Alex Mellor who left the field last week with a head issue. We have ‘classy Cas’ vs the most watchable team in the league on show here and in perfect rugby conditions I fancy we’ll see some points in this one. The line is at 41.5 which with the exception of their first meeting earlier in the campaign when Castleford were in a real slump, was covered in the seven matches between the two prior to that. Salford are perfectly capable of covering a significant chunk of this line on their own but I expect Castleford to come to the party with Gareth Widdop finally showing up as a creative and attacking force last week. I’ll play over 41.5pts here.
Leigh Leopards vs Hull FC (20.00)
The other match on Friday evening comes from the Leigh Sports Village as the Leigh Leopards look to build on their emphatic win at Magic Weekend when they host a Hull FC side who were also victorious at St James’ Park last week.
Hull FC picked up an encouraging win over the Warrington Wolves to show that they are on the right track and they will be heading across the Pennines looking to follow that up against the team who are undoubtedly the surprise package of the season so far in the Leigh Leopards, who were due to be in a relegation scrap having entered the Super League this term but who are actually looking like pushing for a spot in the play-offs at the end of the campaign. We probably didn’t find out too much about Leigh at Magic Weekend as they got the plum draw of the Wakefield Trinity side but they did have to play for almost an hour with 12 men and it will be interesting to see what impact that has on this match. If there are heavy legs in the Leigh ranks then there are enough stars in the Hull FC ranks to take advantage of that. On the flip side of that, you have to respect the Leigh defence so while my instinct would be to side with Hull FC here, the price and handicap line aren’t quite high enough to reel me in.
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