RUGBY LEAGUE fanatic Andrew Day (@AndyDay81) highlights the value for Friday night’s Super League clash between Huddersfield and Wigan.
Huddersfield v Wigan | Friday 20:00
Super League returns for a full round of fixtures after the Challenge Cup quarter-finals were decided last weekend. In–form Huddersfield face semi-finalists Wigan in game that pitches the joint-seventh-placed teams in Super League against each other.
Despite being on a horrendous run of form, Wigan managed to stave off a late Warrington fight-back last weekend and cement their place in the final-four of the Challenge Cup with a hard-fought 27-26 win.
There was further cause for Wigan celebrations as six first-team players returned from injury and finished the game unscathed.
Whilst last weekend was not an official Super League fixture weekend, Huddersfield played St Helens in a rearranged game from May Day weekend. A 26-16 win helped the Giants leapfrog (albeit on points difference) the Warriors into seventh.
Despite being on a seven-game losing streak, Wigan went into last weekend’s game as favourites which was testament to the calibre of players they had returning.
In total six players returned to the match-day squad including captain Sean O’Loughlin, marquee player Sam Tomkins and last year’s club Player of the Year John Bateman. Whilst centre Anthony Gelling drops out this week, the other five stars keep their place in the squad and will be expected to help strengthen Wigan’s top-four credentials, as well as swerving an unwanted century-old record.
Wigan’s worst winless streak was set in 1903 and stands at eight games. However, buoyed by last weekend’s result, manager Shaun Wane and his team will head over the Pennines with renewed confidence.
Furthermore, the returning stars have allowed current players in the squad to return to their more familiar positions. Winger Joe Burgess is one such player who last week benefited. Prior to Wigan’s injury crisis, Burgess was scoring freely on the wing but circumstances meant he has played the last two months in the centres.
Last weekend saw him return to his favoured wing position, alongside regular team mate Oliver Gildart, and resulted in ‘Buggie’ running in two tries. Gildart himself has enjoyed being back next to his partner in crime and scored on his return to the side in the last round of Super League fixtures.
Last weekend’s win over St Helens was Huddersfield’s fourth in their last five Super League games and this fantastic run of form is even more remarkable considering it took them 13 games to record their other three victories.
New coach Rick Stone seems to have finally settled on his preferred starting 13 and his new methods are now being seen on the pitch. Captain Danny Brough and fellow half Martyn Ridyard have chalked up a good understanding which has seen them personally contribute a staggering 48 points in the last three games.
However, the stand out player for the Giants this season has been off-season signing Jake Mamo. Despite missing the beginning of the season through injury, the pacey Australian now has 12 tries in eight games and looks to be getting to grips with the northern hemisphere game.
Sadly for the Giants, yet fantastic for the Warriors, Mamo last week suffered a significant ligament strain to his foot and has been ruled out for this fixture and a further five weeks.
Warriors to end ‘The Streak’
Last weekend’s result against Warrington showed that Wigan are a very different animal when close to full strength and another strong performance is expected here.
Equalling the club’s record losing streak will not be an option to Wane and expect a very fired up team to come ready to take two points home. Add to that the loss of Mamo, Huddersfield will undoubtedly be weaker and Sky Bet’s offer of Wigan -8 on the handicap line at 11/10 looks good value.
When in top form, Wigan’s left edge can be deadly and should they win here, it is fair to assume it is this area of the pitch they are likely to have most success. Joe Burgess and Oliver Gildart are key players on this side and the 3/1 (SkyBet) offer for both to touch down seems generous.