Friday, 13 February 2015

Super League Round 2 Weekend Preview

A busy day meant I was unable to preview what turned out to be a one-sided game between Salford and St Helens last night with a victory for the Saints but the weekend is still early and there are five more games to preview starting with a trio of clashes tonight.

Wigan Warriors host the Huddersfield Giants with both sides looking for their first win of the season after the Warriors let a 22-12 lead slip to draw 22-22 at Widnes and the Giants suffered a 19-0 loss at home to Hull FC. The last meeting between the sides saw Wigan stroll to a 57-4 play-off win over the Giants in September but despite their play-off exit at the DW, Huddersfield doubled the Warriors in 2014 with a 24-8 win in last season's opening round so will be keen to stage a repeat.

Two players who will have mixed emotions tonight are Jack Hughes and Larne Patrick after swapping sides on loan with Hughes set to face Wigan as an opponent for the first time while Patrick's home debut for the Warriors sees him face-off against friends and temporary enemies.

Wigan make one change from last week's 19 man squad with the suspended Matty Smith replaced by Ryan Hampshire while Huddersfield name an unchanged 19 from the defeat to Hull.

Wigan Warriors: Bateman, Bowen, Burgess, Charnley, Clubb, Crosby, L. Farrell, C. Farrell, Gelling, Hampshire, McIlorum, O'Loughlin, Patrick, Powell, Sutton, Tautai, J. Tomkins, L. Tomkins, Williams.
Huddersfield Giants: McGillvary, Cudjoe, Wardle, Murphy, Brough, Robinson, Crabtree, Lunt, Huby, Ferres, Hughes, Bailey, Kopczak, Ta'ai, Broughton, Mullally, Ellis, Connor, Johnson.

This could be a close one but I feel that the atmosphere of a first home game will spur the Warriors to a win so Wigan 28 Huddersfield 18.

After comfortable victories in the opening round, Hull FC and the Warrington Wolves meet with hopes of securing back-to-back wins after Hull beat Huddersfield 19-0 and Warrington defeated Salford 22-8. The previous meeting between the two sides saw Warrington seal a 24-18 win as part of a double over the Airlie Birds. Despite the doubling, Hull will be confident in the knowledge that 2013 was a double in their favour so the odd numbered year may strike twice for them.  

Hull make one change from last weekend with James Cunningham replacing Dean Hadley while Warringon are unchanged for their trip across the Pennines, a trip that last year caused problems with some Wolves fans only arriving with an hour on the clock and led to humour on social media.

Hull FC:  Bowden, Cunningham, Ellis, Green, Houghton, Lineham, Minichiello, Paea, Paleaaesina, Pryce, Sa, Shaul, Sneyd, Talanoa, Thompson, Watts, Westerman, Whiting, Yeaman
Warrington Wolves: Asotasi, Atkins, Bridge, Clark, Currie, B Evans, R Evans, Harrison, Higham, Hill, Laithwaite, Monaghan, Myler, O'Brien, Penny, Ratchford, Sims, Westwood, Wheeler.

Both sides look strong and this could be close so a drop goal win is my tip for Hull so Hull 25 Warrington 24.

Two sides with different opening weekends complete tonight's schedule as Leeds Rhinos host the Widnes Vikings with Leeds looking for a second consecutive win after a 40-30 comeback against Hull KR while Widnes secured a late 22-22 at home to Wigan. Leeds hold a superb record against Widnes with wins in all of the last five meetings including the most recent which saw them secure a 38-28 win last June.

Leeds Rhinos include a potential debutant in Andy Yates who replaces Josh Walters in an other wise unchanged 19 while Widnes are without the suspended Patrick Ah Van and injured captain Kevin Brown as Magraff Leuluai and Danny Galea come in.

Leeds Rhinos: Hardaker, Briscoe, Watkins, Moon, Hall, McGuire, Burrow, Leuluai, Aiton, Peacock, Jones-Buchanan, Ablett, Sinfield, Ward, Achurch, Cuthbertson, Sutcliffe, Singleton, Yates.
Widnes Vikings: Cahill, Carberry, Clarkson, Craven, Dean, Galea, Gerrard, Hanbury, Heremaia, Isa, Kavanagh, Leuluai, Manuokafoa, Marsh, Mellor, O'Carroll, Owens, Phelps, Tickle.

Widnes's missing duo could hinder them and with Leeds at full strength, I tip them so Leeds 26 Widnes 14.

Saturday afternoon features a single game as Catalans Dragons begin their home campaign against fellow round one losers Castleford Tigers with the Dragons  keen to continue their fine home from from last season which saw only two defeats. Catalans came out worse in an 18-7 loss to St Helens while Castleford suffered a late 24-22 defeat to neighbours Wakefield.

The sides claimed a win each last season with the Dragons winning in this meeting with a 28-6 score back in September but the Tigers will hope for a repeat of just over a year ago when they sealed a 32-6 win last February.

Catalans are without Remi Casty (hand) but are able to include Willie Tonga who played just 12 seconds in round one after a heavy hit while Castleford are missing Ashley Gibson (hamstring) and Adam Milner (knee) so Liam Finn may deputise at hooker and Ben Roberts at half-back.

Catalans Dragons: Anderson, Baiteri, Bosc, Carney, Duport, Dureau, Elima, Escaré, Garcia, Henderson, Lima, Maria, Mounis, Oldfield, Pelissier, Pomeroy, Taia, Tonga, Whitehead.
Castleford Tigers: Boyle, Clare, Carney, Channing, Crossley, Finn, Gale, Holmes, Lynch, Massey, Millington, Moore, Moors, Roberts, Shenton, Solomona, Tansey, Webster, Wheeldon.

Catalans are strong at home and the long trip won't help Castleford too much but this will be close so Catalans 30 Castleford 24.

The final game of the round takes place on Sunday as the Wakefield Wildcats host Hull KR with the Rovers eager to bounce back the defeat to Leeds which saw them go from 30-16 in front to lose 40-30 while the Wildcats will look to secure a second consecutive win after edging past neighbours Castleford 24-22.

Wakefield will hope to avenge the double suffered to the Rovers in 2014 with the most recent meeting seeing the Rovers win 42-16 at Wakefield after 44-6 win earlier in the season. Alike the Hull/Warrington trend mentioned earlier, Hull KR's 2014 double came on the back of suffering one in 2013 so Wakefield will hope the trend strikes twice.

Wakefield include Matty Ashurst in place of Matt Ryan in an other wise unchanged 19 with Craig Hall on course to face the Rovers for the first time since leaving in the off-season. Hull KR are missing Michael Weyman (knee) and James Donaldson (thumb) with Liam Salter included alongside potential debutant John Boudebeza.

Wakefield Wildcats: Anderson, Annakin, Ashurst, Collis, Godinet, Hall, Kirmond, Lauititi, Lyne, McShane, Miller, Owen, Paea, Riley, Scruton, Simon, D Smith, T Smith, Washbrook
Hull KR: Allgood, Bailey, Blair, Boudebza, Burke, Campese, Carlile, Cockayne, Dixon, Goulding, Green, Horne, Kelly, Mantellato, McCarthy, Salter, Sio, Walker, Welham

Another potential cracker is on the cards here and I think a drop goal could be the difference here so Wakefield 22 Hull KR 23.