How the Bookies See it
|Leeds v Hull||
|St Helens v Wigan||
Leeds Rhinos have hit an inconsistent patch in recent weeks, with two defeats in four games preventing them from challenging Castleford for the League Leader’s Shield. A 16-14 win over Saints last time out was a fitting send-off for Headingley’s famous South Stand and took them a step closer to earning a home play-off semi-final. Hull FC brushed off a 46-18 Super 8s defeat to Huddersfield in Round 3 by beating Wigan 18-14 at Wembley to win the Challenge Cup for the second year running. The Black and Whites have the psychological advantage over Rhinos, having swept them aside 43-24 in the cup last month.
St Helens entered the Super 8s on the back of three wins before adding the scalp of leaders Castleford after the split. Two defeats since then, to Hull and Leeds, suggest their run of form may have been a flash-in-the-pan. Wigan Warriors won their last two Super 8s games, restricting both Huddersfield and Salford to single-digit point-hauls in the process. However, a slack kicking display in the Challenge Cup final saw last year’s Grand Final winners miss out on what many thought was their best chance of getting their hands on some silverware this term.
It will be interesting to see how Wigan react to last week’s cup final defeat. Recent league form suggests they should overcome Saints, which would be profitable for any punter taking Sky Bet’s 13/8 on a Warriors win. Any hangover from the disappointment in the capital, though, would hand the advantage to St Helens in the race for the fourth play-off place.
Hull took Leeds apart in the second half of their recent Challenge Cup semi-final, and Brian McDermott’s men will not relish facing the Airlie Birds again so soon. Rhinos fans will cling to the memory of their side running out 10-7 winners last time they met at Headingley, but Hull may have too much for them this time. Bet365 is offering 13/5 on the East Yorkshire side prevailing, which seems ludicrously generous.
Scrum-half Marc Sneyd’s kicking was the difference between Hull and Wigan at the weekend, and the the two-time Lance Todd Trophy winner is a decent 6/1 to bag the Man of the Match nod on Thursday night.
Sports.net’s Top Tip
|Leeds v Hull||
Hull to win