How the Bookies See it:
- Hull v Catalans (Thurs 23rd Feb 20:00): Hull 1/3, Catalans 5/2, Draw 25/1 - William Hill
- Leeds v Salford (Fri 24th Feb 20:00): Leeds 3/10, Salford 5/2, Draw 20/1 - Sky Bet
- Wigan v Widnes (Fri 24th Feb 20:00): Wigan 1/7, Widnes 9/2, Draw 33/1 - Bet365
Hull FC kicked off their 2017 campaign with an 8-12 victory away at Wakefield and will hope to recreate the sort of form that saw them top Super League for much of 2016 before eventually being beaten to the League Leaders Shield by Warrington and knocked out of the Play Offs by Wigan. Catalans Dragons were disappointing in 2016, but secured a 20-12 victory over Warrington in Round 1, so will travel to East Yorkshire full of confidence.
Leeds Rhinos went down to a narrow 6-4 defeat against St Helens in Round 1, but edged past Leigh Centurions 14-17 last week. Friday’s tie will be their first of the year in front of a Headingley crowd desperate for them to banish the memories of a torrid 2016. Salford Red Devils were convincingly beaten 16-26 by Wigan in Round 1, but registered their first win of the season last Thursday at Huddersfield, with Gareth O’Brien impressing after bagging 22 of their 30 points.
Wigan Warriors overcame Salford in Round 1, before taking down Cronulla Sharks 22-6 at the DW last Sunday to be crowned World Club Challenge champions. Last year’s Grand Final winners have now won the last seven competitive games on the bounce, a run dating back to September. Widnes Vikings ended last year’s Super 8s with three defeats and picked up where they left off in Round 1, when they went down to a surprise 16-28 reverse to Huddersfield Giants.
It is tempting to back three home wins from these games, with Wigan seemingly unstoppable, Leeds wanting to make right last season’s wrongs in front of their own fans and Catalans’ relatively poor record on the road. However, a treble on that outcome at William Hill will only return you evens.
The only way to make a substantial return on the inevitable Wigan victory is to venture into the winning margin market, and Hills has 9/4 on the home side ending up between one and 12 points to the good or 5/1 on them overcoming Vikings by between 11 and 15 points.
A win over Warrington suggests Catalans might make more of a fight of this season than they did during the last campaign, but a Thursday night trip to the KCOM is a tough prospect. Hull FC were unlucky last year after defying the critics for so much of Super League XXI and ground out a decent away win at Wakefield a fortnight ago, so they should have enough to overcome their French visitors. As such, Catalans/Hull in the half time/full time market is definitely worth a look at 6/1 with Paddy Power.
The biggest chance of an upset comes at Headingley, where the pressure is entirely on the Rhinos. An away victory is 3/1 with Bet365 but, if you think a second trip over the Pennines in just over a week will prove too much for the Red Devils, a narrow Leeds win of between one and ten points is a decent 12/5 at the same bookmaker.
- Sports.net’s Top Tip: Leeds Rhinos to win by between one and ten points at 12/5 with Bet365.
Please note, odds may fluctuate in the lead up to kick off.