I said it last week but these Super 8 games are terrific. Last night’s game between Warrington and Castleford was a belter. I know we were on the wrong side of it backing the underdog to win and losing by one point but right up until the final whistle when the Wolves dropped the ball deep in attack I still thought they were going to win. That’s great sport. Tonight’s games are just as good and high drama will come from all of them I’m sure.
Leeds vs Wigan
Leeds are rightful favourites given that they are at home tonight. They play an inspiring brand of football that is both exciting and high risk. The ever present Jamie Peacock is so important, as is Cuthbertson who has been a revelation and coach Brian McDermott will really miss the, of the bench strength of Luluia when he finally retires at the end of this season. Those three create space. With their off loads, power running and ability to cut down tackle time they set the foundation for the magicians, Sinfield and Maguire. As opposition forwards get tired they then bring on the fresh but small, incredibly fast feet of Rob Burrows who can open up a defence like no other.
There is one other key Leeds component. Undeniably the best full back in the League – Zak Hardaker. He is a superstar. If it sounds like I am a died in the wool Leeds supporter well I guess that’s sort of true. However not tonight. Wigan have done the double over Leeds this year and there is something about playing Leeds that brings the best out of the Warriors. Ben Flowers returns tonight and that is important as he is a talent, despite his grand final antics last year. Matty Bowen is in the form of his life and despite ageing legs he will compete with Hardaker. Manfredi, Sarginson, Farrel and Charnley are a real handful and talisman Captain, Sean O’Loughlin saves his best for this time of year.
There is talent right across both teams and these two will probably fight out the Grand Final but tonight I am taking the 6 points on offer and going with Wigan.
Huddersfield vs Catalan.
Another cracking game. They should stagger these on Fridays. One kicking off at 6.30 and the other at 8.30. I want to watch them both. This game will be a tough physical encounter and it really does depend on who wants it more and can maintain their discipline. I think it’s safe to say this is knockout Rugby League. Tonight’s loser has nowhere to go in the Super 8’s, probably.
The Giants have had the edge this year with 2 wins and a draw but the last 2 games have only had 2 points between them both home and away, Catalans home record is often discussed and that they are not the same team away from home. That’s true but its not so true in the finals. Last year they beat good teams away from home in the finals and they are a better, stronger unit than in 2014. Sadly injurys have really hit them hard this year but there are signs those key players are coming back with the return of Willie Tonga, Thomas Bosh, Elima and most importantly, perhaps one of the top 5 Stand offs in the world, Todd Carney who has been out nearly all season.
The layers make the Giants a 10 point favourite but I don’t see it that way. So again we will take the points tonight and back the Dragons to win as well at what looks an inflated price.
St Helens vs Hull
There is 14 points on offer in this game as St Helens are seen as massive favourites. Its not really a betting game this one as it is doubtful Hull have anything to play for and St Helens have everything to play for. If all hopes were alive for both teams I would want to be with Hull +16 as they ran an in form Tigers very close last week and there are times when i think a real physical battle doesn’t suit the St Helens team. If you knew Hull were really up for it then take the 14 on offer.