Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Super League Round Six Preview

This week sees a round spread over four days as Thursday Night Rugby returns while the Saturday game will continue meaning a full weekend of action.

Thursday sees the fierce clash between Warrington and Wigan with the visitors looking for a first League win against their hosts since 2010 while Warrington will look to gain revenge for defeat in the last meeting between the two in last year's Grand Final. I have previewed the big game in full in my Wigan preview so more insight can be found here - Wire v Wigan and my prediction for the tie is Warrington 22 Wigan 24.

Warrington - Roy Asotasi,Ryan Atkins, Chris Bridge, Ben Evans, Rhys Evans, Simon Grix, Micky Higham, Chris Hill, James Laithwaite, Joel Monaghan, Michael Monaghan, Richie Myler, Gareth O’Brien, Gene Ormsby, Stefan Ratchford, Glenn Riley, Matthew Russell, Trent Waterhouse,Ben Westwood

Wigan - Bateman, Bowen, Burgess, Charnley, Clubb, Crosby, Farrell, Flower, Gelling, Goulding, Green, Hughes, James, Pettybourne, Smith, Taylor, Thornley, Tomkins, Williams.

Unusually, Friday night sees only one game as London travel to face Leeds, the Broncos remain winless after five games and will look to draw on their first half performance against Warrington in round four when they led before capitulating in the second 40 minutes. Leeds on the other hand are still unbeaten and will be odds-on to continue that after a comfortable win at home to Widnes last week.

Leeds have been boosted this week by the news that star winger Ryan Hall has committed to a new contract which quashes any rumours of his exit, a luxury that London can only dream of as they look to reach 20+ for only a second time this season with the first being in the 22-50 loss to Wakefield last week.

It is hard to see anything but a Leeds win here so I am saying Leeds 48 London 18.

Saturday sees Catalans host Huddersfield with the Dragons still looking for their first win of the season after a poor start that has seen them concede an average of 40 points a game while in comparison scoring only 18 in reply. Last week's defeat at St Helens saw some positives despite a 40-22 loss as they improved their average but the next two games are Hudds and next week Wigan so more than jut an improvement is needed.

Huddersfield on the other hand have bounced back from three games without a win as they demolished Bradford 18-66 with three players scoring twice and Brough claiming 18 points for himself from the boot and will be confident of a win after a double over the Dragons last year with the away meeting seeing them claim 20-28 win after being 10-8 behind.

Catalans need to improve and home advantage may help them so I am gambling here in saying a Catalans win - Catalans 23 Hudds 22.

Sunday sees four games on a packed afternoon with the top two both away at Salford and Wakefield while Hull KR host Bradford and Widnes travel to Hull.

St Helens travel to Wakefield looking to make it six wins in a row in 2014 after their recent win over Catalans saw them remain at the top of the table while Wakefield are looking for a third successive win after thrashing both Catalans and London.

Saints did the double over the Wildcats last season but Wakefield have been superb in the last three games which have seen them score 130 points and will be hopeful of ending Saints 2014 record. Both sides boast two of the best kickers in the league with both Sammut and Walsh with near perfect records but Walsh this week has been sidelined so Lomax will surely deputise and in a close game that could prove vital.

Both sides are doing well but I think Saints will continue their run but not with ease so Wakefield 24 Saints 32.

Castleford travel to Salford and like Saints are looking for a sixth win of the season but the surprise is that pre-season when looking at this game many would have said it would be Salford with the better record, sadly their new-look side have struggled with only two wins from five made worse in a 12-28 defeat to Warrington last week.

Castleford have sneaked wins in the last two games (36-31 v Wigan/19-16 v Hull) and would gladly do so again if it meant a sixth win but Salford despite their recent losses have shown positives most notably last week as loan signing Dom Manfredi (one month from Wigan) ran in two tries and will be eager to add to that this weekend.

I see a close game and no last-gasp for Castleford as Salford improve their form so Salford 24 Castleford 18.

Widnes will look to get back to winning ways after losing their unbeaten record at Leeds when they trval to Hull who themselves suffered defeat last week late on at Castleford. Widnes have been a surprise package this season and boast three wins from their four wins but were found out at Leeds in a 38-4 loss so will be wary of lightning striking twice on Sunday.

Hull have had a mixed start with only two wins (Catalans/Bradford) but have come close in their three defeats against St Helens, Warrington and last week at Cas so should not be underestimated especially after the last meeting between the two that saw Widnes humiliated 72-10 so will be on the hunt to avenge that on Sunday afternoon.

Widnes have done well so far this season and I think they will continue that with a win over the Black and Whites so Hull 18 Widnes 26.

The final game of the weekend sees winless Hull KR host Bradford who boast two wins but after their points deduction sit on -2 at the bottom and come off the back of a 18-66 hammering from Huddersfield while KR were unfortunate to lose at Wigan 34-20 last week.

Both sides will be looking to improve on their recent form with KR looking for that extra step to a win after a good showing at Wigan saw them lead at halftime before being nilled in the second half and saw them dubbed a 'one half team'. They seem to do well in one half while suffering in the other which was also proven when they came from behind to draw away to Huddersfield so a full 80 minutes performance may give them that first win.

Bradford on the other hand have wins but the off pitch issues concerning a takeover haven't helped the on field performances with heavy defeats in the last two denting their decent start to 2014  but the form of Henry and Foster give them some positives ahead of Sunday's game.

I see a close one between two teams both lacking in confidence after poor runs but KR to get their first win of the season so Hull KR 30 Bradford 22.