A full round of Super League fixtures returns this weekend following the Challenge Cup quarter-finals – and two sides playing catch-up with the rest of the competition.
This weekend features several games where both sides are pretty close to each other in the table and there are some early prices out. As ever, we’ll have more detailed previews of each individual game later on in the week.
Widnes Vikings v Leigh Centurions
A basement battle kicks off the weekend on Thursday – and both sides had last weekend off to prepare for it – but both sides have shown signs of improvement of late.
Widnes have won their last two home games while Leigh managed to put 50 points past local rivals Wigan in the last round to move themselves off the bottom.
In their previous meeting it was Widnes that came out on top at Leigh Sports Village – and they’re favourites to do so again here. The Vikings are 4/7 while Leigh are 13/10. The Centurions have been given a +4 start on the handicap at 10/11, with the home side the same price to cover it.
We’d fancy Widnes to continue their recent improvement, and lift themselves off the bottom – backing them to cover the handicap at this stage seems like the value bet.
St Helens v Salford Red Devils
While there have been some signs of improvement from Saints since Justin Holbrook’s arrival, they still can’t get a good, consistent run of form together. Their longest winning streak still stands at two – and they come into this game on the back of a loss to Huddersfield.
Salford lost each of their last two Super League games but bounced back in some style last Thursday in the Challenge Cup against Wakefield to book their place in the semi-finals. They still sit second in the table but don’t seem to be fancied by the bookies on the early prices. You can get 7/4 on the Red Devils – and 2/5 on the Saints. Salford have been given an eight-point start on the handicap at 4/5 – with Saints at Evens. One would expect a slightly shorter handicap to be offered later on in in the week.
For value at this stage, one would be tempted to part a little bit of money on Salford finding their winning touch in the league again.
Leeds Rhinos v Castleford Tigers
This is one we should all look forward to. Castleford have had the upper hand against Leeds so far this season – with two wins from their two meetings, though their last encounter at Magic Weekend was substantially closer than their early season meeting at The Jungle.
Castleford’s hopes of a treble are over following their Challenge Cup defeat to Hull FC but they will look to maintain their healthy lead at the top of the table – which currently stands at six points.
Leeds are 13/10 to make it third time lucky against the Tigers, with Castleford at 8/13 – and the home side have been given a four-point start. After a long winning run coming to a halt in such a big game, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Leeds finally get the better of their opponents – and their underdog price looks appealing.
Hull FC v Wakefield Trinity
Hull have certainly returned to form after booking their place in the last four of the Challenge Cup – and one would expect them to continue that good form against Wakefield.
Trinity have been an awkward side for many to face this season, and have exceeded expectations by being so close to the top four – but injuries may have caught up with them, as seemed to be the case when they lost to Salford in the Challenge Cup.
Hull are 3/10 to record another win, with Wakefield available at 9/4. Normally we’d say that’s a bit big, but Lee Radford’s Hull side seem to have the bit between their teeth at the moment. We’d expect them to cover Wakefield’s 10-point start on the handicap at 10/11 as well.
Huddersfield Giants v Wigan Warriors
Huddersfield just keep on improving having won each of their last three to climb above the Warriors into seventh, while Wigan need to end a winless streak in the league. However, last weekend they managed to book their place in the Challenge Cup semi-final despite doing their best to hand it to Warrington.
Wigan have seen several of their star men return to fitness and they will hope results follow, though there is still a lot of improvement to be made judging by their cup win against Warrington – while Huddersfield seem to be a match for near enough any side they face.
On recent performances, we’d fancy Huddersfield at 6/4. Wigan are available at 1/2 and the Giants have been given a +6 start. Any side at their best would probably find the Giants to be handful at the moment, and their price looks pretty good value.
Warrington Wolves v Catalans Dragons
A meeting between two sides who are badly out of form and they probably feel down on their luck. At the time of writing betting has been suspended on Betfred – we’ll look this up again later to update the piece.
Warrington have lost each of their last four games in all competitions – though they came very close in their cup defeat to Wigan – while Catalans have won one in their last eight. However, it is an opportunity for the Dragons to impress their new coach Steve McNamara.
Wire will be favourites and Catalans have been given a +6 start on the handicap. It’s a really hard one to call, but this might be a case of backing the visitors because they will be a longer price. If they were both the same price you’d probably toss a coin.