RUGBY LEAGUE expert Kaine Greenwood (@KaineG23) is back with another Super League NAP from Friday night’s action.
Leigh Centurions v Huddersfield Giants | Friday 20:00
Leigh host Huddersfield after a somewhat humbling result in perhaps the biggest fixture of the season in terms of rivalry and importance to their supporters.
The Centurions faithful will at least be expecting the squad to put some points on the board unlike the fruitless evening endured against Wigan last time out and I do think we’re in for a high-scoring night under the Sports Village lights.
Important personnel return to the Giants
The Giants themselves were easily dispatched by Challenge Cup holders Hull FC in a Marc Sneyd-inspired eight-try display last time out but Rick Stone’s side were hamstrung by the disruption to their three-quarters in the build-up to the KCOM trip.
Out of the players that were missing for the visitors last week in the showing at Hull, Ukuma Ta’ai is one that returns from suspension to add threat to the West Yorkshire forward line (having scored twice already this season), while winger McGillvary is also named in 19-man squad.
Ridyard back in the fold
The Centurions secured their place among Super League’s elite with a thrilling 48-40 victory over Rick Stone’s men in the ‘Middle 8’s’ phase last season and the main architect of that display Martyn Ridyard should return to the fold for his hometown club after injury.
A repeat of his 24-point haul on that occasion may be required and he will be instrumental in whether there can be an immediate change of fortunes from the Wigan nilling. Leigh also have Adam Higson back but Willie Tonga has replaced him on the club’s list of unavailable firepower.
The Leythers have put on two solid, workmanlike performances in their home clashes to date – against Leeds and in victory over St. Helens – so they are not without reasons for support.
Blunt attack could stunt Leigh
But while this week’s opponents are more susceptible to the style of play that has served Neil Juke’s men so well to Super League, they have yet to post over 24 points in a game and the Claret and Gold also offer a far more direct, off-the-cuff, attacking threat than the hosts have faced in the opening four fixtures.
Huddersfield had scored at least 20 points in their first three outings of 2017 before their backline was re-shuffled last week – it will be strengthened again here. At the prices, for a game that should be more about attack than defence, I just can’t get away from the Giants.
By no means are these two performing at their best as yet but I expect there will be plenty of points in this affair and in Ryan Brierley, Huddersfield have a former Centurion that could spark the offence past Neil Jukes’ men in his burgeoning partnership with Danny Brough in the halves.
The return of wingman Jermaine McGillvary boosts the visitors’ output to a point that I see as just too much to handle for an ever-learning Leigh outfit and this results in us reaching for that winning bowl of Ben & Jerry’s as the selection. Scoop it up.
Leigh Centurions v Huddersfield Giants – Huddersfield Giants to win (6/4 Betfair)