How the Bookies See it
|Castleford v St Helens||
|Leeds v Hull||
Castleford Tigers have been on scintillating form all year, sweeping pretty much all before them. Last week’s 16-48 loss to Hull, the result of resting a number of key players, was their first defeat since Saints shocked them 26-12 at home. St Helens, in comparison, have been frustratingly inconsistent. The run of three wins that saw them snatch a play-off place followed three defeats on the bounce, making them one of the most unpredictable teams in the league.
Leeds Rhinos have restored some of the pride that took so much of a hit last year. However, they have been guilty of taking their eye off the ball on a number of occasions this term. Seven wins and three defeats from their last ten games was enough for them to ease into a safe second place. Hull FC are another rollercoaster team, and had a weakened Cas to thank for helping them over the line into the playoffs. Six defeats and five wins in their last 11 games does not make positive reading for the KCOM faithful.
It would be extraordinary if Castleford do not make the Grand Final, even if that shock home defeat to Saints last month weighs heavy on their minds. Tigers have been such a force of nature that coach Daryl Powell should be able to inspire them to another memorable victory at the Jungle and, with the try-scoring prowess of Greg Eden and a surprise early return from injury for scrum-half Luke Gale, it could be a one-sided affair.
Betfred has 13/8 on Cas winning with a handicap of 12.5, which seems entirely possible. The league’s top tryscorer, Eden, is 4/1 with William Hill to go over first, ahead of team mates Greg Minikin (5/1) and Zak Hardaker (6/1).
At Headingley, there could be a much closer affair. Rhinos have hosted Hull twice since July and beaten them both times, but the East Yorkshire side had the better of their western neighbours in the Challenge Cup semi-final. There is no love lost between the teams and Friday’s game should be a pulsating display of rugby league.
There’s not much between them in the straight win market, but 11/8 on Leeds/Leeds and 21/10 on Hull/Hull in the Half Time/Full Time market are worth considering if you have an inkling one way or the other.
Leeds should have enough to see them through, but don’t expect a rout. Betfred’s 5/2 on a Rhinos win of between one and ten points seems the best bet going on this one.
Sports.net’s Top Tip
|Leeds v Hull Winning Margin||