Thursday, 22 May 2014

Super League Round 14 preview

After an exciting Magic Weekend in Manchester for round 13, Super League moves onto round 14 with six of the 14 sides having a short turnaround.

Tonight sees the meeting between Salford and Wigan with the home side likely to feature many former Wigan stars including Gareth Hock, Harrison Hansen, former coach Iestyn Harris, Martin Gleeson and the on loan Logan Tomkins.

Wigan secured a stunning win over Leeds at Magic but suffered a blow with Blake Green sidelined for three months while Salford suffered a narrow defeat to neighbours Widnes in a match where both sides exchanged the lead numerous times.

After their mixed start and hopes of a top six finish,Salford have now decided on a more realistic hope of the top eight and currently sit in ninth place ahead of the the tough tie against the Warriors tonight and as Wigan are likely to field a similarly youthful side to the victorious one on Saturday, Salford will be wary as Wigan's youngsters have performed very well this season and for Wigan there is the prospect of second place in the table.

Last season's meeting between the sides saw Wigan win 42-0 on the opening weekend against a Salford side very different from that which will take the field tomorrow evening as the Red Devils look to move up to tenth in the table after only four wins in 13 games while Wigan after their blip away to Leeds are in great form with nine wins from their 12 games this season.

Salford include the aforementioned foursome with Wigan links while Wigan include the fit again Ryan Hampshire with Greg Burke and Ben Austin coming in place of the injured Blake Green and Matty Bowen and John Bateman who may have been rested with former Red Devil Jordan James also included.

Salford- Howarth, Rapira, Eden, Sa'u, Hansen, Platt, Chase, Williams, Gleeson, Hock, Lee, Dixon, Ashurst, Puletua, Tasi, Morley, Meli, Tomkins, Griffin

Wigan - Austin, Burke, Burgess, Crosby, Dudson, C.Farrell, Gelling, Goulding, Hampshire, Hughes, James, Manfredi, McIlorum, Powell, Sarginson, Smith, Sutton, Taylor, Williams.

Despite Wigan's injured list, I see the heroes of Magic triumphing again so Salford 12 Wigan 30.

Friday night features two games with the televised match, St Helens hosting Huddersfield with the Saints hoping to erase the memory of the Magic defeat to Warrington while Huddersfield will look to build on the heavy win over Bradford.

Last season's meeting saw Huddersfield hammer Saints 40-4 in what was Nathan Brown's first game against his former side with the Giants going on to lift the League Leaders shield but their form this season has seen them win only seven from 13 as they sit fifth while Saints after a perfect eight game winning run have only won two of their last five but still sit second and close to the top.

The two sides met in the Challenge Cup with Saints winning 17-16 with a last-gasp Walsh drop goal after Brough had one denied for the Giants controversially at 16 all with the dismissal of Brett Ferres for a dangerous lifting tackle hopefully not in the minds of the Saints players ahead of tomorrow's game.

Saints trio Alex Walmsley, Jonny Lomax and Josh Jones all miss out with Jordan Hand, James Tilley and Gary Wheeler all recalled while Huddersfield recall Jermaine McGillvary in place of the injured Jodie Broughton.
St Helens- Makinson, Turner, Hohaia, Walsh, Masoe, Roby, McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Soliola, Wilkin, Flanagan, Wellens, Greenwood, Wheeler, Walker, Dawson, Richards, Thompson, Hand, Tilley.

Huddersfield- Grix, McGillvary, Cudjoe, Wardle, Murphy, Brough, Robinson, Crabtree, Lunt, Kopczak, Ferres, Chan, Bailey, Lawrence, Patrick, Faiumu, Ta'ai, Wood, Mullally.

This game could go either way and it may seem like a gamble but I am going for Huddersfield so St Helens 20 Huddersfield 28.

The second game sees Hull travel to face Leeds with both sides looking to bounce back from Magic defeats to Hull KR and Wigan respectively.

Leeds will be eager to bounce back from the Magic defeat to Wigan, a loss that ended their run of seven successive wins that has propelled them to the top of the table and will look to take advantage of a Hull side currently on a poor run of one win in five including the damaging defeats to Wigan and rivals Hull KR in recent weeks.

Alike the aforementioned ties, the two sides also met in 2013's opening weekend with Leeds winning 36-6, a score that the Rhinos would be proud to repeat but a repeat that would further extend Hull's losing run which is made worse by the fact that their city rivals Hull KR sit two points and two places clear of the Airlie Birds, a fact that FC will be eager to erase.

Leeds hand a debut to Robbie Ward due to injuries to Paul Aiton and Rob Burrow with Jamie Peacock sidelined and Kallum Watkins and Tom Briscoe returning while Hull are without Garreth Carvell but are able to give an instant debut to new signing Setaimata Sa while Ben Crooks returns from injury in place of the suspended Jason Crookes.

Leeds- Hardaker, Jones-Bishop, Watkins, Moon, Hall, McGuire, Leuluai, Ablett, Sinfield, S Ward, Delaney, Bailey, Kirke, Clarkson, Achurch, Briscoe, Sutcliffe, Singleton, R Ward

Hull- Bowden, Crooks, Colbon, Ellis, Hadley, Heremaia, Horne, Houghton, Miller, Paea, Paleaaesina, Rankin, Sa, Shaul, Talanoa, Thompson, Watts, Westerman, Yeaman.

As both sides are eager for a win this could be a superb match-up but I see Leeds coming out on top so Leeds 30 Hull 12.

Saturday's game sees Catalan host Bradford with the Bulls in need of a win to close up on the top 12 while Catalan will look to build on their win over London on Saturday.

Bradford seem to be different from one week to the next with a superb win against Warrington seemingly forgotten after heavy defeats to St Helens and Huddersfield and with the gap to themselves and London widened to eight points at the bottom, a win is a must for the Bulls.

Catalan are in great form with four wins in their last five and as a result are ninth with a record of six wins in 13 which has quashed early worries of relegation and has given them confidence of a charge for the top six with the form of Morgan Escare and Elliot Whitehead being a huge contributing factor to their rise in form.

Last season's meeting saw a 30-10 win for Catalan with a repeat something Bradford will hope to prevent as they try to replicate the performance that saw them defeat Warrington for only their third win of the season.

Catalan are still missing the quartet of Scott Dureau, Brent Webb, Ian Henderson and Greg Mounis with  Julian Bousquet, Antoni Maria, Jean-Philippe Baile and Damien Cardace recalled in place of Mathias Pala, Benjamin Garcia, Jason Baitieri and Joan Guasch. Bradford include new signing Jordan Baldwinson with James Donaldson and Manase Manuokafoa returning with Antonio Kaufusi back in contention.

Catalan- Escare, Pryce, Pomeroy, Oldfield, Bosc, Elima, Lima, Taia, Anderson, Maria, Pelissier, Whitehead, Millard, Simon, Bousquet, Paea, Duport, Cardace, Baile.

Bradford - Addy, Arundel, Baldwinson, Conroy, Donaldson, Foster, Gale, Gaskell, George, Henry, Manuokafoa, Kaufusi, Kear, O'Brien, Olbison, Mellor, Pitts, Purtell, Sidlow.

Catalan's good from and home advantage will be major factors and as such I will pip for them so Catalan 36 Bradford 20.

The remaining three games take place on Sunday with the the first game seeing Hull KR host a London side still searching for their first win of the season while Rovers will look to build an magnificent Magic win over city rivals Hull.

The Robins are buoyant after a comfortable Magic win in the Hull derby and with two wins and a draw from their last five sit eighth in the table with the form of Liam Salter and Ade Gardner contributing factors to their success.

London despite coming close on Saturday before losing to Catalan by a missed conversion at 24-22 are still without a win in 2014 and like Bradford could be ten points adrift from avoiding relegation with some experts predicting that the Magic defeat was London's last real chance of a win this season.

Last season's meeting between the sides saw London triumph 34-22 with a hat-trick from Mason  Caton-Brown who this season has been a shining light for the Broncos despite their lack of a win and of course a repeat would be superb for London.

After watching both sides on Saturday, Hull KR are a side to be wary of as their pacy attack at times made fools of the Hull defence while London also have a strong attack but were let down in their defence.

The Robins good form could be a factor here and if they attack at their full strength they should come out on top so Hull KR 38 London 18.

Castleford take on Widnes with both sides in good form and sitting well placed on the top of the table after strong wins at the Magic Weekend.

Both sides have been a welcome surprise this year after poor seasons in recent years and to see them both in the top six is a joy as it shows that sides can go from the bottom to challenging at the top in the space of a single season.

Last season's meeting saw Castleford win 28-26 and a similar result on Sunday would not be a surprise with both sides in good form and each with three wins from their last five games as Castleford sit third with nine wins from 13 overall and Widnes sixth winning eight from 12.

Castleford have been very strong at the Mend-a-Hose Jungle in 2014 with their only defeats coming against St Helens and Leeds and as such are a team to be wary of for visiting sides but Widnes have done well when against strong sides with stunning wins against Huddersfield and St Helens being perfect examples.

This game is one that is really hard to call but after a long thought, I will go for Castleford so Castleford 25 Widnes 22.

The final game at the weekend sees Wakefield host Warrington which on paper could be a mismatch after contrasting results at the Magic weekend.

Wakefield after two stunning comeback wins against Hull and Widnes were brought down to earth with a heavy defeat to neighbours Castleford while Warrington fought off a comeback from St Helens to avenge their opening weekend loss to the Saints.

Last season's meeting saw Warrington win 41-34 and with the current form of both sides, a similar result cannot be ruled out as Warrington have three wins and Wakefield have two wins from their last five so form wise it is pretty close.

However, the sides are separated by five places in the table with the Wildcats twelfth and the Wolves above them in seventh with their attacks quite close points wise but with Wakefield's defence letting them down this season,

This could be a cracking game but I see Warrington coming out on top so Wakefield 18 Warrington 38.