Thursday, 25 September 2014

Super League Play Offs Week Two Preview

After seeing Leeds and Widnes exit the season-extending competition, the quartet of Castleford, Catalan, Huddersfield and Warrington will all be keen to avoid suffering the same fate while the reward for the two victors is a place in the semi-finals away to either St Helens or Wigan.

Tonight sees a fierce tie between Castleford and Warrington in what will be the first ever play-off fixture to be played at the Mend-a-Hose Jungle and given that very fact, Warrington will be favourites for the win having played in two of the last Grand Finals ending both as the runners-up.

Castleford go into the game with just two wins in their last five games and find themselves in week two after a humiliating 41-0 defeat away to League Leaders St Helens who came so close to losing the LLS to the Tigers themselves as a Castleford win in round 27 would have given the Tigers top spot.

Warrington go into the game in decent form with three wins and a draw from their last five games with their only recent blemish being the round 27 defeat away to Wigan and after top four finishes in the last few seasons, playing in week two after win is a strange concept for the Wolves. As mentioned above, they are gunning for a trio of Grand Final appearances and would favour a trip to St Helens over Wigan given their victory at Langtree Park in round 26.

The sides have a win apiece in their two meetings this season with both games won by the hosts with Castleford winning 40-6 back in April and Warrington triumphing 48-10 in August so the omen is with Castleford to continue the trend. Prior to this season, Warrington had won the last three meetings between the sides.

Both sides have named strong squads seemingly unchanged from last week as they look to book their place in the last four and as a result be just 80 minutes away from the Grand Final.

Castleford -Dixon, Shenton, Carney, Dorn, Sneyd, Lynch, Milner, Huby, Millington, Hauraki, Massey, Clark, Holmes, Wheeldon, Ellis, Channing, Clare, Finn, Jewitt.
Warrington-Asotasi, Atkins, Bridge, Currie, England, B.Evans, R.Evans, Harrison, Higham, Hill, Laithwaite, J.Monaghan, M.Monaghan, Myler, O'Brien, Ormsby, Ratchford, Waterhouse, Wood.

A close game between two very good sides but I see Warrington's knockout experience proving vital so Castleford 20 Warrington 24

Tomorrow's tie sees Huddersfield host Catalan with the Giants having to play in week two for a second year in a row having suffered defeat to Wigan while Catalan stunned Leeds.

Huddersfield go into the game with three wins and a draw from their last five games with the only blemish being last weeks play off defeat at Wigan with the Warriors storming to a 57-4 win which added to the Giants poor run of defeats in knockout games. The Giants are yet to grace a Grand Final and will be keen to put themselves just 80 minutes away with a win.

Catalan are in fine form with four wins in their last five games which includes the last-gasp win over Leeds last week which was the Dragons fist ever triumph at Headingley and given their mixed away form in 2014, it was a double triumph after such a long trip from the south of France.

The sides have a win apiece with each winning when at home with Catalan securing a 30-14 win in Perpignan in March before falling to a 38-16 defeat in July so the omen will be with the Giants to continue the trend but they have also won four of the last five with the March loss the only blemish in the last five meetings between the sides.

Huddersfield are without Scott Grix and Josh Johnson who are replaced in the 19 man squad by Anthony Mullally and Captain Danny Brough while Catalan are unchanged from the win over Leeds.

Huddersfield -Murphy, McGillvary, Cudjoe, Wardle, Broughton, Brough, Robinson, Kopczak, Lunt, Kaufusi, Ferres, Ta'ai, Bailey, Crabtree, Patrick, Faiumu, Mullally, Lawrence, Connor.
Catalan - Escare, Pomeroy, Oldfield, Bosc, Elima, Henderson, Lima, Taia, Anderson, Mounis, Maria, Pelissier, Whitehead, Millard, Bousquet, Baitieri, Duport, Garcia, Williams. 

A close game and I have a sneaky feeling Catalan will make it two wins in a row in Yorkshire so Huddersfield 24 Catalan 28.