The Super League Super 8s get underway from Thursday as the race to Old Trafford gathers pace – though with Castleford 10 points clear at the top it is fair to stay they have given themselves a head start following their impressive regular season.
They kick off the Super 8s at home to St Helens in one of four interesting match-ups. Huddersfield face Wakefield, Hull take on Salford and Leeds face Wigan. We have a brief look at the early betting here – along with videos of their last league meetings – before more detailed match previews later in the week.
Castleford Tigers v St. Helens
The Tigers could make it 14 consecutive league wins with a win. The Saints are one of three sides to have got the better of the league leaders this season – and they will aim to be the first to do so at The Jungle having failed twice already in league and cup games.
Castleford are 4/9 to record yet another win – and edge their way closer to the League Leaders Shield – with Saints available at 12/5. St. Helens have starts of eight and ten points available with certain bookies at 10/11.
When Saints have lost games of late, they haven’t been by the widest of margins – and a +10 start at 10/11 with SkyBet may be worth a go.
Huddersfield Giants v Wakefield Trinity
Huddersfield have improved significantly as the season has gone on to ensure their place in the Super 8s. Wakefield have exceeded expectations but there might be a worry their season is running out of steam but with a week off they could look to kick on again.
The games between these two sides have been close encounters this season – which is probably why, as the home side, the Giants are best priced 8/11 favourites – you can get Trinity at around 13/8. The visitors have also been given starts ranging from two points to six points at 10/11. A four-point start at Evens with SkyBet could be a tempter.
Hull FC v Salford Red Devils
Both sides were in Challenge Cup semi-final action at the weekend with conflicting emotions at the end of it. Hull made it to Wembley while Salford fell short.
Hull seem to be at the start of one of their winning runs while Salford’s season may be running out of steam – though a win here would make us think again. The Red Devils have lost six of their last seven league games as well as their defeat to Wigan in the cup.
The home side are best priced 2/5 and you can get Salford at 11/4. Handicap offerings vary between eight and ten points at 10/11. You’d probably fancy Hull to cover either of them as things start – and there might be bigger handicaps.
Leeds Rhinos v Wigan Warriors
The game that probably catches the eye most of the first round of the Super 8s as second meets seventh at Headingley.
Wigan made it through to the Challenge Cup final at the weekend and Leeds were knocked out by Hull and it will be interesting to see how both sides respond to that.
One gets this game won’t be like Wigan’s 34-0 win prior to the split where Leeds named a much-changed side, and it’d be nice to see both sides close to full strength go at it.
Leeds don’t tend to lose many games back-to-back and they are rightly favourites – though only slightly – and are best priced 10/11 with Wigan available at 6/5. For large parts of their semi-final win over Salford it was the best the Warriors looked for some time as they have shown signs of improvement, making their price look appealing. Any handicaps being offered focus on slender two-point starts for the Warriors at 10/11.