The battle for survival and promotion also gets underway this weekend with Round One of the Middle Eight qualifiers. Sky Bet appear to be the first to have released prices – though one or two others may have done by the time this goes live.
A local derby gets us underway on the Friday before three more matches over the course of Saturday and Sunday – with one of the original Super League sides getting a test on the road.
Widnes Vikings v Warrington Wolves
They have met three times this season – and last time was a couple of weeks ago when Warrington made it three wins from as many meetings.
Warrington did start to find some form ahead of the split – winning four of their last five games while Widnes lost their last four games which is their longest losing streak of the season.
At home they did improve in the second half of the season but they’re rightly second favourites. It’s reflected in their odds of 2/1 and they may end up longer and they’ve been given an eight-point start at 10/11. It wouldn’t be surprising if Warrington covered that but it may be tighter than some think.
Featherstone Rovers v Leigh Centurions
This is probably the most interesting game of the weekend. Leigh were good at home but recorded just the one win on the road in Super League. On the whole Featherstone’s home record was pretty strong and their home form is going to be key if they are to make an impression in the Qualifiers.
Featherstone have been given a 14-point start on the handicap at 10/11. They’re 7/2 to record a win, with Leigh at 1/5. A first home game, they might want to send a message and it could be tight for long periods. You can see the merit of backing the home side, but if Leigh get a roll on, they might win and win well.
Catalans Dragons v London Broncos
Catalans showed signs of improvement when it came to their performances in recent weeks but couldn’t really put it together over 80 minutes. London recorded some impressive wins en route to their second-place finish.
The Broncos have been given a 24-point start on the handicap but they are facing a side that has a habit of leaking points. No-one conceded more points in the regular round of Super League than the Dragons.
It could be a bit harder for the Catalans than it would seem on paper, and London +24 looks fairly appealing early on.
For the match betting, Catalans are 1/16 and London a 13/2.
Hull KR v Halifax
Halifax got the better of Hull KR in their most recent meeting quite comfortably, but Rovers had top spot secured in the Championship.
You could argue the visitors have momentum ahead of this one having put together a string of wins before the split, while Rovers lost each of their last two. It will be interesting to see what their response is like.
Their meeting at Craven Park earlier on in the season was a 14-point win for Rovers and a 16-point start is being offered for Halifax. It seems like a fair handicap to offer on the face of things, but one would be tempted to back the visitors at 10/11 at this early stage.
For the match odds, Hull KR are 1/6 and Halifax are 4/1.