The Price is Right: Easter Weekend Predictions18/04/2019
Super League fans are in for a real treat this Easter weekend, with two rounds of fixtures to take in before we return to work.
Easter means more than just chocolate for rugby league fans. 12 games of rugby over the five day period, what more could you ask for? Last weekend brought us plenty of shake ups, with Huddersfield beating Castleford last Thursday, St Helens showing Warrington why they’re top of the league and Hull FC’s all-important drop goal away in Perpignan. This week I’ll be focusing on the two biggest derbies in Super League and the first Yorkshire derby of the weekend, which will see a top four clash as third play fourth.
Castleford Tigers v Wakefield Trinity
Castleford are no strangers to Thursday night games, as this fixture will be their fifth Thursday evening game of the season, more than any other team. However, while Thursday might be the new Friday for some, they don’t seem to be bringing much luck to the home side as they’ve only won one of the four fixtures so far.
Daryl Powell’s side are struggling with injuries going into the game, but he does acknowledge that his isn’t the only team with this problem. Could he be getting his excuses in early? I don’t think so, even with the injury crisis they have had so far this season, they have shown strength in their game play and the performances we have seen so far. We should however see the return of forward, Nathan Massey, alongside Will Maher and former Newcastle loanee half-back Cory Aston. Castleford won’t be giving up their third-place position easily and we expect to see a strong performance from the home side, but with another tough game coming up on Easter Monday, it could be tactical for the side to save some of their strength for their trip to Castleford.
Wakefield are another team who are no stranger to injuries. Chris Chester has also been forced to recall players who were out on loan in an attempt to add strength to his injured squad. Last week’s win against Wigan also brought with it several new injuries for the team which could result in a huge change in their game plan. With their past record against Castleford not falling in their favour, Wakefield will be eager to not only take that third-place spot, but also get their first win in 12 games against the neighbours. We shouldn’t expect an easy game from Wakefield, particularly with their strong defence.
Betfred have Castleford as clear favourites to win the Easter Thursday game at 2/7. While I must agree that we will see a home win, I don’t think it will be a walkover for them. If Wakefield really turn up, they could definitely give them a fair game, and a draw at 22/1 might not be a completely outrageous prediction, However, I’m predicting a home win and no change in the top three going into the next round.
Hull FC v Hull KR
It’s a controversial opinion, but for me this is the true derby of the Super League. Even as a neutral fan, you can appreciate the passion that goes into the Hull derby fixtures. A rivalry that has been carried over 233 games and 120 years is continued on Friday when the Robins make the short journey across to the KCOM Stadium.
Coach Lee Radford is hopeful he will be able to welcome back at least two key players to his squad after having a difficult start to the season in terms of injuries. Despite having won six of their ten matches so far, the home side still have a fair amount of improvements to make if they want to keep that fifth spot for the rest of the season. Hull FC remain in front in terms of winning the most derbies, however Hull KR currently have bragging rights after winning their first game of the season this year against their not-so-friendly neighbours. The Black and Whites have a strong team and have more than the potential to beat KR. Can they keep the intensity going for a full 80 minutes? That is the question.
Hull KR are also welcoming back some first team players as Shaun Lunt, Mitch Garbutt and Lee Jewitt are all set to return to the side after missing previous games with injuries. After an eight-day turnaround, the travelling side have had more than enough time to prepare themselves for the derby and won’t have cut any corners in training over the past week. Coach Tim Sheens is confident the team have trained well and are looking strong going into the weekend’s games. The Robins will be travelling confidently to the other side of Hull, with the knowledge they are welcoming back a few familiar faces that could provide that all important morale boost. Despite sitting in 9th place, Hull KR are a strong side who won’t be afraid to show their strength, particularly within such a competitive game.
Hull FC are clear favourites with Betfred to win the game however, I think Hull KR will prove too strong for the home side and succeed as the outsiders at 11/5. While both teams have shown their weaknesses already this season, I think with the longer turnaround between games and increase in strength within their squad, Hull KR are a team we should lookout for throughout the rest of the season.
Wigan Warriors v St Helens
Last year’s champions hosting last year’s league leaders is a game we usually wouldn’t want to miss. However, with recent form of the Wigan team it wouldn’t be completely unfair to expect Saints to run away with yet another game this season.
It’s been yet another week of bad news for Wigan as it was announced earlier this week that Shaun Edwards won’t be taking his position as the new coach next season. Wigan have had far from their dream season so far and I personally can’t see this game being any different for them. If there was ever a time to start their comeback it would certainly be at home to Saints, but I think they could be too far gone this season for us to see the Wigan we are more familiar with. Adrian Lam is welcoming back Sean O’Loughlin, Ben Flower, Joe Greenwood and Chris Hankinson to his side and will be hoping for a much stronger performance than we have seen so far.
St Helens on the other hand, couldn’t have asked for a better start to the 2019 season and, after beating Warrington last week to stay top of the league, they will be more than confident going into Friday’s game. Holbrook has made only one change to his side for the derby with Theo Fages returning to the St Helens outfit. Both sets of fans will no doubt be vocal, with the Saints fans expected to travel in their numbers.
However, it would be unfair to talk about the Wigan v Saints derby this weekend without mentioning the departure of the voice of rugby league himself, as Eddie Hemmings is set to hang up his microphone following the game at the DW on Friday. It was announced back in March that Hemmings last game of his career would be this meeting between Wigan v Saints and I’m sure the teams will provide him a great send off.
St Helens are currently favourites with Betfred to win the game at 2/5 and it would be difficult to find anyone disagreeing with this prediction. Although I don’t think a stronger Wigan side is too far away, I can’t see it happening this weekend and would be surprised to see a competitive derby to the level we are used to with Saints and Wigan.
We’re in for a treat this Easter weekend, with plenty of other fixtures to look forward to.
Thursday 18th April -
London Broncos v Catalans Dragons. Catalan are favourites at 8/15 with Betfred and, after a narrow loss last week at home to Hull, I am expecting a bounce-back victory.
Friday 19th April -
Leeds Rhinos v Huddersfield Giants. Leeds are favourites with Betfred at 8/13 and I think it will be a success for the home side.
Warrington Wolves v Salford Red Devils. Warrington are clear Betfred favourites at 1/5 to win the game and we expect The Wire to stay hot on the tails of Saints up at the top of the leader board.
Monday 22nd April
- Huddersfield Giants v London Broncos. I am expecting a strong display from both teams, but I think Huddersfield will be that little bit too strong for the Broncos.
- Hull KR v Warrington Wolves. We should see two from two from Wire this weekend, but after a strong showing in the second game of the season we know KR can certainly back themselves when playing Warrington.
- Salford Red Devils v Wigan Warriors. I think Friday’s game will take a lot away from Wigan, giving Salford the perfect opportunity to take advantage and grab the win.
- St Helens v Hull FC. As it stands Saints are just too strong and particularly for a team like Hull FC who appear to be slightly hit and miss this season. I’m backing the home team for another two points.
- Wakefield Trinity v Leeds Rhinos. Another Yorkshire derby for Wakefield and I think they can do the job here against Leeds.
- Catalans Dragons v Castleford Tigers, Catalans have caught the top two teams off guard this season and I don’t think it will be any different for Castleford. Although I think they are more than capable of putting up a strong fight, Catalans will prove too strong.
First things first, it’s time for my Gameweek 11 treble.
- Castleford Tigers to beat Wakefield Trinity
- Hull KR to beat Hull FC
- St Helens to beat Wigan
Who is with me?Back