No sooner than Round 22 came to end where early prices released for the last regular round of Super League action.
The top eight has already been decided it’s just a case of what positions the sides now finish in to determine the kind of fixtures they get for the Super 8s and Middle 8 qualifiers.
Below we offer our thoughts on the early prices, accompanied by videos of their most recent Super League meeting:
Warrington Wolves v Widnes Vikings
It’s been some fall from grace from Warrington this season as they will play in the Middle 8s but they have found some form by winning three of their last four games – including at Wigan last week. They face a Widnes side they’ve beaten twice already this season while Widnes have lost each of their last three games, and won just the once on the road this season.
Warrington are understandably favourites at 1/5 with Widnes available at 9/2. You can get a 14-point start for the Vikings on the handicap at 10/11. Given their recent form, and if Warrington can click in attack like they did against Leigh in their last home outing, you may want to wait to see what other handicaps are on offer later on in the week.
Wigan Warriors v Leeds Rhinos
Wigan’s revival hit the buffers against Warrington and they will demand a response but they come up against a Leeds side who have won each of their last three games against sides around them to consolidate second place in the table.
It’s a bigger game for the home side in many ways as they try and close the gap on sides above them, and they could get a slightly more favourable set of fixtures if they were to climb into seventh place.
They are the favourites with 4/7 available but you can get 13/10 on Leeds. The Rhinos have also been given a four-point start – available at Evens which might look tempting. It could be worth looking at their squad list this week though as a couple of injury worries emerged from Friday’s win over Hull.
Hull FC v Huddersfield Giants
Hull’s losing streak continued in a narrow defeat to Leeds on Friday but there comes a time when they will snap out of it – as they have done this season. They are a side that can go on good winning runs, and then losing a few on the bounce soon after. Huddersfield have found their form at the right time to secure their place in the top eight and are sure to give Lee Radford’s side a tough time of things.
The home side are the favourites at 2/5 and you can get Huddersfield at 23/10 – with the Giants given an eight-point start at Evens. If Huddersfield replicate their good performances of recent weeks, they could keep things tight, and that bet might be worth a punt.
Leigh Centurions v Salford Red Devils
Leigh’s last taste of a win was last month when they put 50 points on Wigan but they’ve had little to cheer since. They face a Salford side looking to revive their chances of challenging for the Super League title having lost five of their last six league games.
The Centurions are the underdogs at 9/5 with bookies varying between a four-point or a six-point start for Leigh at 10/11. Salford are best priced 8/13 and despite their form they have shown they can trouble sides, and one would expect them – at this stage – to have enough to cover the four-point deficit on the handicap at 10/11.
Catalans Dragons v Castleford Tigers
Castleford’s winning streak continues to go on and on while the start to Steve McNamara’s reign as Catalans boss has certainly not been dull, even if it hasn’t been as successful as he would’ve liked. The bottom line is they are still leaking too many points.
Given the eight-point cushion the Tigers have at the top there is always the risk of them rotating the side and losing, or complacency possibly setting in, even if they do emphasise they want to guard against it.
The Tigers are favourites to make it 12 league wins in a row at 2/5 with Catalans available at 9/4. The Dragons have been given an eight-point start which looks short. They’re Evens to win on that handicap with the Tigers 10/11 to cover it. One wouldn’t be surprised if there are better value bets later on in the week for bigger handicap prices.
Wakefield Trinity v St. Helens
Wakefield could put themselves in an excellent position going into the Super 8s by wrapping up a regular season top-four finish with a win over St. Helens. No-one has had an easy game away to Trinity this season and with Saints still searching for that consistency this could be another example.
Trinity are 11/8 with Saints available at 4/5. The bookies understandably think it could be tight but it wouldn’t be surprising if the prices were the other way around as the home side look good value at that price. They’ve also been given a two-point start on the handicap (available at Evens in some places).
If Saints were to win it would be the first time they’ve won three consecutive games this season and no-one has recorded a double-digit victory over Wakefield on their own patch this season. It’ll be a tricky afternoon for Justin Holbrook’s side.
We’ll have individual game previews as the week goes on. We’re going to leave the Grand Final betting preview until the conclusion of Round 23 – when the fixtures for the Super 8s will have been decided.