Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Super League Round Three Preview

It may seem strange but for the first time this season, all 14 teams will play in the same weekend as Wigan and Widnes return after the Vikings sat out the previous round while Wigan contested the World Club Challenge in Sydney.

The round begins with a biblical clash of sorts in 'Devils v Saints' as captioned by the pre-match advertising by the hosts and both go into the game with a perfect starts to the season with Saints claiming wins against Wire and Hull and Salford winning narrowly against Wakefield and hammering London.

Salford- Jake Mullaney, Danny Williams, Martin Gleeson, Junior Sa'u, Francis Meli, Tim Smith,Adrian Morley,Tommy Lee, Lama Tasi, Tony Puletua, Gareth Hock, Harrison Hansen, Theo Fages, Andy Dixon, Shannan McPherson, Matty Ashurst, Jay Walton, Greg Johnson, Stuart Howarth.

St Helens - Jonny Lomax, Tommy Makinson, Jordan Turner, Josh Jones, Adam Swift, Lance Hohaia, Luke Walsh, James Roby, Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Sia Soliola, Jon Wilkin , Willie Manu, Anthony Laffranchi, Mark Flanagan, Kyle Amor, Paul Wellens, Alex Walmsley, Mark Percival, Gary Wheeler.

In a new feature, I will predict each match in the round so for this clash a close game could be on the cards and will say Salford 18 Saints 24.

Friday night sees a trio of games but the best place to start is with the first long trip of the season as Leeds visit Catalans in a game that Catalans need to win to give their season a boost after two successive losses but of course away in England. Catalans away disadvantage is countered when they are at home as the trip to the south of France is daunting enough but the atmosphere from the crowd can be intimidating and has seen the big four all topple in recent years. 

The meeting sees Brent Webb face his former side with whom he enjoyed rich success and another notable name to the Leeds players is Jeff Lima in defeating Leeds with Wigan in 2011 saw him claim the Lance Todd award.

Catalans - Brent Webb, Morgan Escaré, Leon Pryce, Michael Oldfield, Thomas Bosc, Ian Henderson, Jeff Lima, Zeb Taia, Greg Mounis, Antoni Maria, Eloi Pelissier, Elliott Whitehead, Daryl Millard, Mickael Simon, Jamal Fakir, Lopini Paea, Jason Baitieri, Jean-Philippe Baile, Frédéric Vaccari.

Leeds - Zak Hardaker, Ben Jones-Bishop, Kallum Watkins, Joel Moon, Ryan Hall, Danny McGuire,
Rob Burrow, Kylie Leuluai, Paul Aiton, Jamie Peacock, Carl Ablett, Kevin Sinfield,
Stevie Ward, Brett Delaney, Ryan Bailey, Chris Clarkson, Tom Briscoe, Liam Sutcliffe, Brad Singleton. 

Catalans to use the home advantage so Cats 30 Leeds 16.

Widnes host Huddersfield with a perfect record after a lightning win against London and a cancelled game last week so the rest may help to spring a surprise on Huddersfield who were stunned by a resilient Hull KR who came back from 24-6 down to draw 24 all in the final minute.

Both sides boast good packs and this could be a really interesting game or could be a one way stroll for the defending league leaders with the first score being important due to the 3G pitch that Widnes use which has tripped up sides in the past. 

Widnes - Allen, Cahill, Clough, Craven, Dean, Flynn, Galea, Gerrard, Hanbury, Isa, Johnson, Joseph, Leuluai, Lloyd, Marsh, Mellor, Owens, Tickle, White.

Huddersfield - Scott Grix, Jermaine McGillvary, Leroy Cudjoe, Joe Wardle, Aaron Murphy, Danny Brough, Luke Robinson, Eorl Crabtree, Craig Kopczak, Brett Ferres, Jason Chan, Chris Bailey, Michael Lawrence, David Faiumu, Ukuma Ta'ai, Kyle Wood, Jodie Broughton, Antonio Kaufusi, Josh Johnson.

I think it will be a Hudds win but by a single score so Widnes 22 Hudds 28.

Hull KR host Castleford with the visitors currently at the league's summit after two comfortable wins over Bradford and Catalans and as such should be sight favourites for this meeting, Rovers had a tough start with a loss to Leeds but completed a superb comeback at Huddersfield going from 24-6 at half time to draw 24-24 and will use the performance as a base to bid for a first win of the season.

Hull KR -Travis Burns, Keal Carlile, Omari Caro, Ben Cockayne, Neville Costigan, Jordan Cox, Greg Eden, James Green, Craig Hall, Josh Hodgson, Graeme Horne, Kris Keating, Jamie Langley, Kevin Larroyer, Rhys Lovegrove, Liam Salter, Adam Walker, Jonny Walker, Kris Welham.

Castleford - Kirk Dixon, Michael Shenton, Justin Carney, Luke Dorn, Marc Sneyd, Andy Lynch Adam Milner, Craig Huby, Grant Millington, Weller Hauraki, Daryl Clark Oliver Holmes, Frankie Mariano, Scott Wheeldon, Jamie Ellis, Richard Owen, Michael Channing, Dan Fleming, Liam Finn.

A tight game and I think Hull KR will sneak it so Hull KR 23 Castleford 22. 

Sunday sees what could be classed as an early relegation clash as struggling Bradford host London with both sides having woeful starts to 2014, London have lost both games and conceded 100+ points already while Bradford have won one but sit on -4 in the table after a six points deduction this week after a being punished for entering administration. Both sides will just want to start March on a high and this could mean to how their season goes.

I think Bradford will shade the game but very narrowly so Bradford 18 London 14.

Warrington host Hull with the Wolves still looking for their first win of the season and with an axe to grind against the Black and Whites after they were beaten in last years Challenge Cup sem-final in what was a win against the odds with Wire the strong favourites. Hull have begun the season well with a comeback win against Catalans and a strong performance against St Helens despite a 34-22 loss.

Warrington need the win and on home soil, I think they will get it but it will not be a stroll and Hull will surprise many who doubt them so Warrington 30 Hull 22.

Six games done and thats is all right, well no as Wigan are back in Super League and are at home to Wakefield, due to the WCC trip it is doubtful that it will be a full-strength Wigan which will give Wakefield confidance given that in both meetings last year they really pushed Wigan as they led at home before a Wigan comeback and aside were the highest scoring side at the DW to come away with a loss so Wigan have to be wary.

Wigan will take confidence in the fact that their young lads can match Wakefield after a good performance against Saints in pre-season and the win over the NZ Warriors a fortnight ago.

A full preview of the Wigan game will come on on Friday with the squads for both sides but for now enjoy your rugby league.