Six key battles this weekend: Handy Hardaker, warrior Wardle, cunning Keinhorst

Alex Yoxall

Super League round six gets underway this week and we are in store for some very intriguing contests.

Joe Wardle v Zeb Taia

Huddersfield Giants v St Helens will kick off the round of fixtures this Thursday in what will prove to be an interesting match.

The Giants are fresh from a brilliant win against current Super League champions Wigan Warriors, whilst St Helens are looking to continue their unbeaten start to the season.

Wardle was one of – if not – the main man against Wigan and despite going through the wars, he made his presence known. His first half break led to the opening try of the game and he caused the Warriors a whole host of issues throughout the match. Taia has been a strong performer for the unbeaten Saints and looks to be one of the most consistent players in Justin Holbrook’s forward pack. His 602 metres made is a statistic that perfectly personifies his solid efforts.

Kieran Dixon v Ash Handley

Not many people would have thought London Broncos would be able to put 40+ points past Wakefield and overturn the current Super League champions Wigan Warriors – but here we are!

Kieran Dixon is no stranger to Super League having played for Hull Kingston Rovers, which has been more than evident in his start to 2019. He made his mark against the Warriors last week, scoring a sensational length of the field try and slotting over three conversions.

Handley has earned himself the starting spot this year for the Rhinos and has shown some solid play. Leeds’ season has however not started the way they would have envisioned when new coach Dave Furner landed on English soil. Handley will be facing off against the flying Dixon, so he needs to perform on the weekend if Leeds are to come away with the ever important two points.

Stefan Ratchford v Zak Hardaker 

This is the battle of the full-backs, and what great full-backs we have here.

Ratchford has started off 2019 in fantastic fashion, his second place in the man of steel rankings a fine testament to that. Hardaker, on the other hand, has enjoyed a steady start to life with the Warriors but their season not going quite as well as they had hoped.

The full-back role is often heralded as one of the most important in rugby league, so you can’t help but think that the winner of this game will at least somewhat be decided by these two men. If Hardaker can regain the form that won him the Steve Prescott Man of Steel in 2015, then Wigan have every chance of winning. Whereas if Ratchford continues in the same grain, there is little doubt the Wolves can continue their winning ways.

Albert Kelly v Danny Brough

Hull FC v Wakefield Trinity is a game between two teams that are beginning to turn heads in 2019. Just a few weeks ago both one sat at the bottom of the table searching for that allusive first victory and the other searching for consistency but now, both are coming into this game having tasted great victories this season.

Albert Kelly inspired the Black and Whites to a great win over the struggling Rhinos, whilst Danny Brough has enjoyed a fine start to life in Wakefield. If it’s not the full-back that decides games, it is often the impact from the pivots that decides the outcome.

Kelly missed the first couple of games for Hull FC and will be looking to get start a consistent run of form under his belt this weekend, where as Brough will look to continue his high quality performances and get his side back to winning games after losing to Hull KR last weekend.

 Jimmy Keinhorst v Brayden Wiliame

Salford Red Devils shocked many when they blitzed through Catalans Dragons on Sunday, running out 46 – 0 winners.

This result came as a massive surprise for many reasons, some of which include their long-term solid form in France, alongside their great result against the Wolves the previous week. Keinhorst’s Hull KR, on the other hand, narrowly defeated Wakefield in a game that will not last long in the memory. Individually, Keinhorst has had a fairly solid start to life with the Rovers, scoring three tries so far in 2019.

Both teams will be looking to keep their momentum going with a win this weekend and the performances of these two men will be paramount for their sides’ success.

Jesse Sene-Lefao v Josh Jones

This battle is between two back-rowers who don’t often take a backward step, which will surely lead to an entertaining encounter.

The Tigers were humbled by Warrington last Thursday and will want to return to winning ways. Salford, however, will have plenty to say about that, especially as they head into the game fresh off the back of an emphatic win in Perpignan.

Sene-Lefao has had a great start to 2019, making a massive 647 metres and scoring two great tries. Jones has also had a fine start to the year with an impressive 730 metres made, two tries and one assist. Who will get the better of the other this weekend?