Super League Round 16 Preview

Following last week’s break from Super League action through the Challenge Cup, the competition resumes at full pace this weekend.nnIt’s top versus second-bottom at the Headingley Carnegie Stadium on Friday night, as a resurgent Hull FC side clash with Yorkshire rivals Leeds.nnRhinos head coach Brian McLennan can once again call upon the services of second rower Jamie Jones-Buchanan, after nine games on the sidelines with damaged shoulder nerves.nnFrench international Eric Anselme also returns from a knee injury, while Shaun Berrigan and Tommy Lee miss out for Hull.nnHull FC have drastically improved under new head coach John Agar, an improvement topped off by last Sunday’s marvellous 22-16 win at Bradford in the Challenge Cup Quarter Final. Leeds have recently been irresistible, coming through 23-16 against Wigan last Saturday. The game should be a close on to call.nnAlso on Friday night, live on Sky, St Helens take on Hull KR, in a repeat of last Sunday’s Challenge Cup tie. St Helens edged through to the semis of the competition with a hard-fought 24-18 victory, and Rovers will be seeking out revenge in this fixture.nnPaul Sculthorpe is expected to return from yet another injury, this time a pectoral strain, while centre Willie Talau is doubtful with a facial injury. Keiron Cunningham will make his 450th career appearance, while Francis Meli will pick up his 200th.nnRovers have no fresh injury worries, and stand-off Paul Cooke is set to play after being convicted for drink-driving this week.nnThe Robins are trying to swoop in for their first win at St Helens since 1985, but face a side who, like leaders Leeds, have picked up five Super League wins from five.nnIn the Saturday evening fixture, live on Sky, Wakefield make their shortest trip of the season with a visit to Wheldon Road to face near neighbours Castleford.nnCastleford head coach Terry Matterson has named Brent Sherwin, Kirk Dixon and Ryan Clayton in his 19-man squad. The trio missed the Tigers’ smash-and-grab 36-28 win at Warrington at the end of last month, but should return for this crunch derby clash. Winger Adam Fletcher is a slight doubt, but Matterson has an almost full-strength squad to choose from.nnWakefield, meanwhile, eased through last Sunday’s cup tie with Oldham Roughyeds with a 46-4 win, and have no fresh injury worries. Castleford are yet to pick up a derby win this season, and were humiliated 54-16 in the Millennium Magic match. But it’s the home side who are in better Super League form, winning their last match while Wakefield have lost their last two. It’s another tough one to put money on.nnOn Sunday, eighth-placed Warrington make the long trip south to London, to face seventh-placed Harlequins. The two sides are level on 14 points in the table, with only 19 points separating them on points difference.nnBoth sides are desperately out of form. Warrington have just one win to their name in the last six, while Harlequins have fared just one better. The Wolves are still reeling from the shock departure of long-term coach Paul Cullen, and the game could really go either way. Home advantage may be the key factor in this one.nnThe final fixture of the weekend sees Bradford host Les Catalans on Sunday. The Odsal side will still be hurting from last week’s painful cup exit at the hands of Hull FC, and head coach Chris McNamara will be demanding a marked improvement from his players.nnLes Catalans are the form side of the two sides, though, being victorious in five of their last six games. After being knocked out of the Challenge Cup earlier on in the competition, they had a full rest last week, and will be travelling to the Grattan Stadium refreshed and ready to upset the odds once again.nnWigan and Huddersfield’s fixture, due to be played this weekend, has been postponed due to essential maintenance work on the JJB Stadium pitch. The game has been re-arranged for Friday 25th July.nnMy Predictions:nnLeeds v Hull FCHome WinnSt Helens v Hull KRHome WinnCastleford v Wakefield – Home WinnHarlequins v Warrington – Home WinnBradford v Les Catalans – Home Win

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