The last regular round of Super League action before the split commences with a local derby between Warrington and Widnes on Thursday. The first thought that came to mind was: why is this on television?
Both sides have their fate sealed and will play in the Middle 8s, and you could probably make a compelling case for two of the three non-televised games to be televised along with some changes to the running order. Probably not the best match to be on the ‘main event’ channel of Sky’s restructured sports channels.
One way of being interested in it is to have a little flutter. Despite their fall from grace it seems Warrington are generating some momentum ahead of their participation in the Qualifiers having won three of their last four games – including last week’s poor replay of the 2016 Grand Final against Wigan.
The home side’s 19-man squad includes the return of Kevin Brown and Matty Russell. With more options available to them in recent weeks, along with their improvement in form, it’s of little surprise they are best priced 1/6. That price has shortened from earlier on in the week.
Widnes go into the game on the back of three successive defeats – which will be disappointing for them as their season had shown signs of coming to life prior to that. It’s hard not to notice the omission of Rangi Chase from their 19-man squad, either. The Vikings are 5/1 and it wouldn’t be surprising if they are even longer than that before kick-off. They’ve been given a 16-point start in most places on the handicap at 10/11.
Their defeats in recent weeks have ranged from 16 to 40 points margins. Warrington should cover that handicap, and if they hit the kind of form they did against Leigh in their last home outing it could be a big win. Warrington -20 is available at 13/10 if you’re feeling bold, we’d certainly take the Wolves at -16 if you’re not so bold.
As for a winning margin, a home win by 21-25 points at 6/1 could be worth looking at. Both sides will want the win, but in the grand scheme of things they know the hard work and the battle for their Super League lives begins a couple of weeks later.