How the Bookies See it
- Wigan v St Helens: Wigan 1/2, St Helens 13/8, Draw 20/1 - Betfred
- Castleford v Wakefield: Castleford 1/12, Wakefield 6/1, Draw 28/1 - Sky Bet
- Hull v Leeds: Hull 8/13, Leeds 13/10, Draw 20/1 - Sky Bet
Wigan Warriors remain in the top half of the table but have been on a wretched run since their four-match winning streak at the start of the season came to an end. They slipped to a third straight defeat last week as they went down 27-10 at home to leaders Castleford, leaving coach Shaun Wane to bemoan his side’s missed chances and one-on-one defence. St Helens are a couple of points behind Leeds and this week the decision was made to part company with head coach Keiron Cunningham. The final straw in a disappointing start to the season came when they squandered a 14-0 lead to draw with Huddersfield.
Castleford Tigers have been sensational in winning seven of their first eight matches this term. Greg Eden and Greg Minikin have been the devastating finishers at the top of the try-scoring charts, but the Tigers also showed in the victory over Wigan that they have defensive steel as well as attacking flair. Wakefield Trinity are also going well in fifth place, having registered three straight wins against Leigh Centurions, Catalans Dragons and Widnes Vikings. Dean Hadley was the star of the show in the 30-4 success over Widnes with a brace of tries.
Hull FC occupy fourth place with 11 points from eight matches, but they have just lost their way over the past couple of weeks. Following a 22-22 draw with Warrington, they were demolished 54-18 at home by Salford in a game where head coach Lee Radford admitted they ‘rolled back into their insecure shell and looked like they could be broken at any time’. Leeds Rhinos also go into the game on the back of a defeat, having lost 25-14 to the improving Wolves, but they are still third in the table and just a couple of points adrift of leaders Castleford.
St Helens’ decision to let the long-serving Cunningham go shows just how far short of expectations they have fallen so far this season. Saints had set their sights on silverware and to be in the bottom half of the table is just not acceptable. They will hope that the change has a galvanising effect on the players and Wigan certainly look vulnerable after a few poor results, although the Warriors can take heart from the way they put table-topping Castleford under pressure last week. If Wigan can tighten up at the back and take their chances, Sky Bet’s odds of 10/11 on the home team in the Half Time/ Full Time market look very reasonable against a St Helens outfit in transition.
Wakefield will make the short trip across West Yorkshire full of confidence after notching three successive wins, but they were all against struggling teams and facing Castleford with be a very different challenge. The Tigers have averaged almost 40 points a game this season, and also have the best defensive record in the league, so it could be worth exploring the handicap markets, particularly the price of 10/11 on Castleford with a 20-point deficit.
The bookmakers have Hull as the marginal favourites for their clash with Yorkshire rivals Leeds, despite their record defeat by Salford last time out. Leeds will be determined to make up for their 25-14 loss to Warrington Wolves and, even though back-rower Brett Ferres is still banned, a flutter at 11/8 with BetVictor on an even-looking match may prove too enticing for many punters. To boost the potential return even further, it could be an idea to combine the bet into a treble with shrewd wagers on Wigan and Castleford.
- Sports.net’s Top Tip: A treble on Wigan Half Time/ Full Time (10/11, Castleford with a -20 handicap (10/11) and Leeds (5/4) - 7.2/1 at Sky Bet
*Please note, odds may fluctuate.