RUGBY LEAGUE fanatic Andrew Day (@AndyDay81) has earmarked two selections for this week's action…
Leeds Rhinos v Hull FC | Thursday 8th March , 19:45
Leeds enjoyed a week off as their fixture with Catalan Dragons was postponed due to the Beast of the East storm. Prior to that, they returned from two weeks in Australia and with 12 first team players absent, lost 23 – 6 to the Widnes Vikings.
This weekend the Rhinos welcome fellow Down Under travellers, Hull FC, and are hopeful of welcoming back some first team regulars. Front-rower Anthony Mullally, Second-rower Carl Ablett, Full Back Jack Walker and wingers Ryan Hall and Tom Briscoe are all expected to return. Add to that the early form of new half back Richie Myler and Rhinos stalwart Kallum Watkins; Leeds should be in good shape going into this one.
These sides met five times last season with the Rhinos winning on four occasions scoring 142 points in total including an 18 – 16 win the last time these sides met in the Super League Semi Final.
Hull returned to winning ways last week with a 21 – 12 victory over the Warrington Wolves. That victory however came at a cost with suspended front-rower Liam Watts, winger Bureta Faraimo and forward Josh Bowden joining stand-off Albert Kelly, hooker Danny Houghton and prop Mickey Paea on the injury list.
Marc Sneyd will be the one Hull look to lift them this week and so far this season, he has done a fantastic job. He has personally contributed 38 points this season – 44% of Hulls total points – and another commanding performance will be needed this week.
Along with Sneyd, Hull will be looking to the league’s second top try scorer Fetuli Talanoa to continue his form and help maintain the clubs 22 point average points scored.
With a week off to refresh under their belts, I fancy a Leeds win here but expect it to be tight. Last season, only one of the three games at Hedgingly had a winning margin of more than 4 points. I think the bookies have got the handicap well priced and difficult to call.
The other game at the home of the Rhinos saw a winning margin of 12 points and with this in mind, I think the offer of Leeds to win by between 1 – 12 points at 15/8 is fantastic value and is my NAP of the week.
Warrington Wolves v St Helens | Friday 9th March , 19:45
Top of the league St Helens travel this week to the Warrington Wolves with their unbeaten record still in tact thanks to a 34 – 2 win last week over Salford Red Devils.
That win ensured the Saints not only maintain their place at the top of Super League but also ensured they are still the side with the most points scored – 127 – and the least points conceded – 32.
With star Full Back Ben Barba also continuing his impressive start to the season with two tries – an average of a try a game now – the Saints will be confident of another strong performance.
These sides met twice last season with a win apiece and both results going the way of the home side. The average total points scored in these two games was 47.5 with the average winning margin being 23.5 points.
Warrington’s season so far has been a mixed bag. Wins against Widnes and Wigan have been impressive whilst the defeats to Leeds, Huddersfield and Hull have been equally disappointing.
That being said, they very much went toe to toe with Hull last week – two tries each – and add that to the victory over Wigan, Warrington’s form is in a good place. Star Half back Tyrone Roberts returned to the side last week and a big performance from him along with the leagues top meter maker – Stefan Ratchford – and top tackler – Daryl Clarke will be critical if the Wolves are to get anything from this.
The bookmakers have St Helens to win this and rightly so. They are the league leaders and have beaten all comers comfortably so far this season – their lowest winning margin is 10 points.
That being said, I do not think they will win at a canter, and Warrington’s growing confidence will mean the Saints will be made to work hard for a result here.
With that in mind, I will be taking St Helens to win with a -5.5 handicap.