Friday, 20 June 2014

Super League Round 17 Preview

After the rearranged round two game saw Wigan rise to the Super League summit, round 17 begins tonight due to no Thursday night Sky game and will have huge focus on Sunday afternoon with all of the top four in action.

Tonight's TV game sees Bradford host Hull KR with the hosts needing a win to keep up their slim hopes of surviving relegation while the Robins hope to close on the top eight.

Bradford come into the game in poor form after a heavy loss away to Salford which saw the dismissal of coach Francis Cummins and with a gap of eight points from safety, they need a big run of wins which they hope will start with avoiding a league double to the Robins.

Hull KR come into the game just outside the top eight and after a disappointing loss at home to Warrington, they will be confident of getting back to winning ways with a win against a struggling Bulls side while hoping to complete a league double after a 16-0 win in the reverse meeting.

Last season's meeting between the sides saw Bradford triumph 34-12, a result the Bulls would love to see a repeat of and the unpredictability of this season means a repeat could well be on the cards tonight. 

Bradford include Jay Pitts, Brett Kearney and Alex Mellor with Adam Henry, Joe Arundel and Jamie Foster also returning to the 19 man squad while Hull KR include Kris Welham, Rhys Lovegrove and potential debutant Sonny Esslemont in their 19.

Bradford : Addy, Baldwinson, Blythe, Diskin, Donaldson, Fakir, Gale, Gaskell, George, Kear, Kearney, O'Brien, Olbison, Manuokafoa, Mellor, Pitts, Purtell, Sidlow, Walker.
Hull KR: Burrns, Carlile, Costigan, Eden, Esslemont, Gardner, Green, Hall, D Hodgson, J Hodgson, Horne, Keating, Lovegrove, Netherton, Ollett, Salter, Walker, Welham, Weyman.

This could be hard to call but I see the visitors coming out on top so Bradford 12 Hull KR 42.

Saturday sees two games with Huddersfield hosting London and the traditional Saturday afternoon game for Catalan as they host Hull.

Catalan host Hull looking to continue a superb winning streak at home while the Airlie Birds will look to close up on the top eight.

Catalan come into the game in stunning form at their Perpignan home which includes last weekend's 42-0 win over the then table toppers St Helens and sitting in seventh, the Dragons have the chance to close up on the top six and extend the gap to those sitting just outside the play-off places.

Hull will be wary of Catalans strength at home with the sunny weather also a potential factor but after a strong win away to Widnes they will be confident of ending the fine run that their hosts are currently enjoying.

The reverse meeting between the sides saw Catalan blow a half-time lead at the KC stadium before going on to lose 36-34 so will be hoping to avoid suffering a league double but will be confident after winning away to the Dragons in last season's Challenge Cup but lost 30-4 away in the league.

Catalan include new signing Sam Williams in place of the suspended Eloi Pelissier while Hull make three changes with Tom Lineham returning for the first time since March with Richard Whiting and Dean Hadley replacing the trio of Callum Lancaster, Jacob Miller and Liam Watts.

Catalan: Escare, Pryce, Pomeroy, Oldfield, Bosc, Elima, Henderson, Lima, Taia, Anderson, Mounis, Whitehead, Millard, Paea, Baitieri, Duport, Cardace, Garcia, Williams.
Hull FC: Bowden, Crooks, Ellis, Heremaia, Hadley, Horne, Houghton, Lineham, Paea, Paleaaesina, Rankin, Sa, Shaul, Talanoa, Thompson, Tuson, Westerman, Whiting, Yeaman.

There could be a surprise but with such good weather I see Catalan extending their run so Catalan 38 Hull 20.

London make the trip up to Huddersfield still looking for their first win of the season after a narrow loss to Wakefield while Huddersfield will look to close on the top four.

Huddersfield come into the game on the back of a superb win away to Leeds and coupled with a break after a win over Wigan, they are in good form and look pretty solid for a top eight place this year though will look to avoid the record of the worse second season after being League Leaders.

London must wonder how they are still winless after leading for a long time away to Wakefield before losing late on, they have led several times this season but have been unable to make it last and will hop for a better performance than in the previous meeting with the Giants that saw them lose 16-30.

Last season's meeting saw Huddersfield triumph 34-6, a result they would like to repeat and one that if repeated could see London surely confirmed for a place in the Championship next year.

Huddersfield make one change from the win over Leeds with Aaron Murphy making way for Anthony Mullally while London include Erjon Dollapi, Joe Keyes and Denny Solomona in place of Ben Farrar, Maxime Herold and Jon Wallace.

Huddersfield : Grix, McGillvary, Cudjoe, Wardle, Brough, Robinson, Crabtree, Kopczak, Ferres, Chan, Bailey, Lawrence, Patrick, Faiumu, Ta'ai, Wood, Broughton, Mullally, Johnson.
London: Caton-Brown, Cook, Cunningham, Dollapi, Drinkwater, Foster, Greenwood, Griffin, Keyes, Krasniqi, Lovell, Macani, Mataitonga, Minns, Moore, O'Callaghan, Slyney, Solomona, Vea.

It is hard to see anything but a Huddersfield win based on form so Huddersdfield 42 London 18.

Sunday features four games with the standout tie being Castleford's trip to face St Helens in the battle of second and fourth.

St Helens will be glad to be at home after suffering a humiliating nilling away to Catalan and after Wigan's midweek win find themselves sitting in second place ahead of a potential league double over the Tigers.

Castleford alike their hosts suffered a huge defeat away but they were humbled by a resilient Wigan side who gained revenge for the defeat in the Cup but Castleford will be keen to get back to winning ways and gaining some revenge themselves after letting a lead against the Saints slip in the previous meeting before going on to lose.

Last season's meeting saw St Helens triumph 48-18, a result the Saints would love to see repeated as depending on other results they could reclaim top spot but if not would still move away from their visitors.

Castleford recall Michael Shenton, Marc Sneyd, Andy Lynch and Daryl  Clark return with James Clare, Ben Renyolds and Ashley Gibson missing out while St Helens include Jon Wilkin, Adam Swift and Lance Hohaia.

St Helens: Makinson, Turner, Swift, Hohaia, Walsh, Masoe, Roby, McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Soliola, Wilkin, Manu, Flanagan, Wellens, Percival, Wheeler, Dawson, Richards, Thompson, Savelio.
Castleford : Dixon, Shenton, Webster, Carney, Dorn, Sneyd, Lynch, Milner, Huby, Millington, Hauraki, Massey, Clark, Holmes, Mariano, Wheeldon, Ellis, Finn, Jewitt.

This one is truly hard to call after predicting a draw in the previous meeting but this time I will say St Helens 24 Castleford 25 

In what will be a fourth game in sixteen days, Wigan travel to face Wakefield looking to maintain top spot while the Wildcats hope pull away from the bottom two.

Wigan after a duo of defeats in league and cup have bounced back well with huge wins over Castleford and Widnes despite a packed schedule and sit top of the pile for the first time in 11 months ahead of the trip to Yorkshire.

Wakefield come into the game after games against the bottom two that saw a win and a loss so the visit of Wigan will make for a tough game with hopes of a similar performance to the reverse meeting that saw them lose at the DW but come so close to staging a shock.

Last season's game was a really stunning game as Wakefield lead 23-16 against the Warriors before collapsing in the second half and losing 23-36, a repeat of which would see them suffer a league double to the Warriors.

Wakefield include Wigan bound Taulima Tautai for the second time since injury with Reece Lyne, Andy Raleigh and Rrichard Moore returning in place of Matty Wildie and Jarrod Sammut while Wigan make sweeping changes after Wednesday's win with Sam Hopkins and Jack Murphy included while Ryan Sutton, George Williams and Jack Hughes are recalled. Connor Farrell and Callum Wright retain their place after good performances against Widnes.

Wakefield Wildcats: Anderson, Gilmour, Godinet, Kirmond, Lyne, Mathers, McShane, Moore, Owen, Raleigh, Riley, Ryan, Scruton, D Smith, T Smith, Sykes, Tautai, Walshaw, Washbrook.
Wigan Warriors:  Burke, Charnley, C Farrell, L Farrell, Flower, Gelling, Goulding, Hopkins, Hughes, James, Murphy, O'Loughlin, Powell, Sarginson, Smith, Sutton, Taylor, Williams, Wright.

When these two meet it is always an exciting game and I see no different this weekend but I see Wigan coming out on top due to the fresh faces so Wakefield 18 Wigan 32.

Warrington host Salford with both sides looking to add to comfortable wins in the previous round with the Red Devils keen to keep up their slim play-off hopes.

Warrington will admit they haven't been at their best this season but know a win on Sunday could see them as high as fourth making for a close fight at the top and will be keen put a dent in the Red Devils play off hopes.

Salford ended a horrific winless run with a comfortable victory over Bradford but the poor streak has seen them slump to 11th and with a similar gap to the play-offs and the relegation places so a win is sorely needed.

The reverse meeting saw Warrington win 28-12 at the AJ Bell stadium and with a league and cup double at home to Salford in 2013, they will be confident of completing another double against the re branded Red Devils.

Salford prop Adrian Morley will return to his former club for the first time while Martin Gleeson replaces Michael Platt with the Wolves looking to be unchanged.

Warrington : Asotasi, Atkins, C. Bridge, Currie, Dwyer, B. Evans, R. Evans, Grix, Harrison, Higham, Hill, J. Monaghan, Ormsby, Philbin, Ratchford, Riley, Russell, Walker, Westwood.
Salford : Fages, Rapira, Evalds, Sa'u, Johnson, Gleeson, Chase, J. Walne, Walton, Hock, Lee, Dixon, Ashurst, Puletua, Tasi, Morley, Meli, Tomkins, Griffin.

Warrington's superb form suggests an easy win but I think it could be a narrow victory so Warrington 24 Salford 22.

The final game of the weekend sees the Widnes host Leeds with the Vikings hoping to end the week on a high after two heavy defeats against Hull and Wigan.

Widnes come into the game after what must be their worst week of the season after conceding 104 points in two games while scoring only 10 and with Leeds boasting the league's best defence, the chance of ending their poor run will be a tough one.

Leeds will be confident of bouncing back from the defeat to Huddersfield as they will be far fresher than their opponents having not played since last Thursday and will hope to go top of the league should Saints and Wigan both suffer defeats.

The reverse meeting saw Leeds triumph 38-4, a repeat of which would be disaster for Widnes as near 40+ points for a third successive game would take away any morale they have left from Wednesday's trip to Wigan.

Last season's meeting saw Widnes suffer a 36-52 loss that would severely dent their top eight hopes but would do Leeds the world of good.

Vikings include Joe Mellor while Kevin Brown and Jon Clarke miss out while Leeds' Paul Aiton returns with Danny McGuire and JJB with Carl Ablett returning from suspension.

Widnes: Ah Van, Allen, Carberry, Craven, Dean, Gerrard, Gilmore, Gore, Flynn, Hanbury, Isa, Johnson, Joseph, Kavanagh, Lawton, Leuluai, Marsh, Mellor, White.
Leeds: Ablett, Aiton, Bailey, Briscoe, Delaney, Hall, Jones-Bishop, Jones-Buchanan, Kirke, Leuluai, McGuire, Moon, Peacock, Sinfield, Singleton, Sutcliffe, Walters, Ward, Watkins.

Leeds to come out on top here due to the longer resting period so Widnes 12 Leeds 30.