How the Bookies See it
|Hull v Leeds||
|Wigan v Salford||
Hull FC ended a three-game Super League losing streak by beating Huddersfield 14-10 last Friday. The Airlie Birds are the current holders of the Challenge Cup, having come from 10-0 down with 20 minutes left on the clock to beat Warrington 12-10 in last year’s final. Leeds Rhinos are the second-most successful club in the competition’s history and will be desperate to snatch a 14th win. A youthful Rhinos side went down 34-0 to Wigan last week, bringing a run of three wins, including a 10-7 victory over Hull, to an abrupt halt.
Wigan Warriors rounded off a generally disappointing regular season with that destruction of their old rivals and will hope to kick on from there. A top four finish in the Super 8s is well within reach, as is a record 21st Challenge Cup success. Salford Red Devils are holding on in fourth position in the league, despite a shocking run of six defeats in seven games. If they were to lift the cup this term, it would be for only the second time in their history, 79 years after their last win.
The bookies can barely choose between Hull and Leeds this Saturday and it’s easy to see why. Rhinos may have the marginally better squad, but Hull have home advantage and will scrap hard not to relinquish their crown cheaply. However, memories of Leeds’ 52-24 win at the KCOM in April may unsettle the home side, making Betfred’s evens on a Rhinos win look decent.
Boylesports has 7/5 on the away side to march through to the final despite a two-point handicap, but that should probably mark the limit in that market, with a tight affair expected.
Wigan are clear favourites to make their 33rd Challenge Cup final, but Salford could still yet pull a surprise. World Cup winner Manu Vatuvei is set to make his debut for the Red Devils on Sunday and the New Zealander, nicknamed the Beast, is a prolific tryscorer.
One man does not make a team, but the winger’s inclusion could give his side the boost they need to snap out of their slump. Warriors are far from invincible and many punters will be hugely tempted by Sky Bet’s 5/2 on a Salford win. If you’re more cautious, you could try William Hill’s evens on a Salford win with an eight-point head start but, whatever happens, this is unlikely to be an easy afternoon for Wigan.
Sports.net’s Top Tip
|Wigan v Salford||
Salford to Win