engage Super League Round 16 Preview

There’s just the one Super League fixture this weekend (a rearranged one), with the emphasis placed firmly on the magic of the Cup on Challenge Cup semi-final weekend.nnHuddersfield’s trip to Wigan – rescheduled from Friday 6th June to this Friday following essential maintenance work on the JJB Stadium pitch – may be played out in the shadows, but still holds plenty of significance in the race for the play-off places.nnWigan have run into another rut of form. Having picked up crucial back-to-back home wins over Harlequins and Leeds, Brian Noble has since seen his side lose 39-22 at Hull KR, followed by last Friday night’s 46-12 humiliation at home to arch rivals and league leaders St Helens.nnThe Cherry & Whites did look convincing in fourth place behind Les Catalans. However, after just two wins and a draw from six games, they have been leapfrogged by Warrington into fourth and a win in this game is vital if they wish to close the gap on their near neighbours and avoid slipping further down the table into sixth.nnNew signing Tim Smith could make his debut for the Warriors at half-back. Centre Phil Bailey (hamstring) and Pat Richards (illness) may also return, although captain Sean O’Loughlin (shoulder), forward Paul Prescott (back), and hooker Michael McIlorum (suspended) are all missing from Noble’s initial 19-man squad.nnAs for Huddersfield, they haven’t enjoyed the best run of form of late either, picking up just four points in six games. They are in danger of hitting rock-bottom if they aren’t careful, with Castleford now just two points behind.nnThey have nothing to play for, but in a season as manic as this, more unexpected events have occurred, so why can’t the Giants spring a surprise at the JJB Stadium?nnWingman David Hodgson will have extra motivation ahead of this fixture, as he makes a return to the club where he made over 100 appearances and tasted Challenge Cup success in 2002.nnThe narrow 19-18 defeat to Warrington at the Galpharm Stadium last Sunday was Hodgson’s first appearance for Huddersfield, despite signing for the club in January.nnKnee ligament damage ruled out Hodgson for nearly six months, but he will be raring to go in this one. On the subject of injuries, interim joint head coaches Keiron Purtill and Paul Anderson have no fresh problems to contend with.nnThe fact that this game actually matters for Wigan should prove to be the deciding factor here, although this season has proved many a time that “deciding factors” can often have no bearing in the result at all.nnMy prediction:nnHome Win

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