A new name could be on the Super League trophy on Saturday night in the form of Castleford Tigers or a familiar name in Leeds Rhinos. It’s the meeting of the league’s top two and whoever takes the Super League crown will have had a remarkable story behind it.
Castleford have been building a decent side for some time and a Grand Final win would cap off a great season – adding to the League Leaders Shield they won comfortably.
Leeds have bounced back from a poor campaign last season where they had to battle it out for their Super League survival in the Qualifiers. It’s quite a contrast as they’re within 80 minutes of regaining the title. The scale of their turnaround was not lost on their coach Brian McDermott who was visibly emotional following last week’s play-off win over Hull where he couldn’t say much during his post-match interview as he fought back the tears.
There has been plenty of news off the field to dominate the headlines ahead of Saturday evening’s game. Zak Hardaker has been left out of the Tigers 19-man squad following a breach of the club’s rules – meaning Daryl Powell might have to shuffle things around a little.
Leeds, however, have Stevie Ward in their squad as they look to give him every chance to take to the field.
The two sides have met on four occasions this season – with the Tigers winning every one of them. The two meetings at The Jungle have seen comprehensive victories for this season’s table toppers – while meetings at Magic Weekend and Headingley have been tighter but with Castleford emerging with the points on both occasions.
If the Grand Final is as good as the semi-finals last week – with Castleford beating St. Helens thanks to (now Man of Steel) Luke Gale’s drop goal in extra time and the Rhinos’ narrow victory over Hull – then we’re in for a treat.
Given the statistics in their favour, it is unsurprising the Tigers are favourites to win their first Super League title. They’re best priced 4/6 to win the title, with Leeds at 13/8. Both sides can be found at the same prices to win the match. The bookies seem to be of the opinion that Hardaker’s omission enhances Leeds’ chances of winning, while Castleford’s task could be a little more difficult as the price has changed slightly over the course of Thursday afternoon.
The bookies are giving the Rhinos a four-point start on the handicap. Both sides are Evens on that start. In each of the previous four games this season, Castleford have managed to win by more than four points so it would make sense to back it purely based on statistics.
Given the nature of the occasion – that it’s Castleford’s first Grand Final against a side that has a wealth of experience when it comes to these games – a tight final wouldn’t be a surprise. All things considered, we’d favour Castleford by either 1-5 points (5/1) or 6-10 points (11/2).
The Man of the Match betting will be worth a look to. It’s not surprising to see Man of Steel Luke Gale at the top of the market – best priced 3/1, especially after his semi-final exploits so soon after an appendix operation. The chances are he will have a pivotal role to play for his side.
Other names that catch the eye for Castleford could be Greg Eden and Paul McShane – both priced at 16/1.
Danny McGuire is playing in his final Leeds Rhinos game, and Rob Burrow is hanging up his boots. You can get 10/1 and 20/1 on them respectively to go out with the Harry Sunderland trophy in their hands. If you’re not a fan of the emotional aspects when betting then Matt Parcell could be worth a look at 10/1 after a decent season.