Another weekend of Super League is nearly upon us, so Love Rugby League have taken a look at all six of the games taking place this weekend.
Widnes v Hull FC
The Vikings were most people’s prediction to be battling it out at the bottom end of the table, however smart recruitment and continuity in playing and coaching staff is seemingly working for Denis Betts’ side at the minute. They come into this game off the back of a solid victory over Hull Kingston Rovers and will be hoping to use home advantage to continue their good form. If they get the ball out to Super League top tryscorer Corey Thompson on Thursday evening, the Vikings may gain another impressive victory.
Hull FC put up a spirited display but were narrowly beaten by Wigan at the KC Stadium last weekend and the early season optimism is slowly draining after back-to-back defeats. They welcome Frank Pritchard back into the 19-man squad and Jordan Abdull is included also after Leon Pryce limped off against Wigan last week.
St Helens v Wakefield Trinity Wildcats
Whilst performances haven’t been the most convincing for Keiron Cunningham‘s side, results are now starting to fall in their favour with solid wins over Hull Kingston Rovers and Castleford Tigers following the humbling defeat in the World Club Series.
This game with the Wildcats may offer the Saints an opportunity to put a 80-minute performance in following the drama at Wakefield at the minute, and an improved performance and result may offer Cunningham a reprieve from criticism over the surprising omission of Theo Fages in recent weeks.
Following Brian Smith’s departure from the club, Wakefield are now in search of a new head coach to try and keep them in Super League for 2017. Whilst results haven’t been the desried ones, many have commented on the progress they had made under Smith and the drama of this week may bring the club together to produce a spirited display to upset the Saints. It would be some effort if the Wildcats can grab a victory at Langtree Park.
This is the first time that these two sides have met since the Super League Grand Final in which Leeds were victorious to complete a glorious treble. However, both sides respective starts to the 2016 season couldn’t have been anymore different.
Wigan have been solid enough to win all four of their opening games, whilst the Rhinos have seemingly strugged to adjust to life without Sinfield, Peacock and Leuluai, whilst captain Danny McGuire is sidelined with injury.
Wigan welcome the return of skipper Sean O’Loughlin to their 19-man squad after missing last week’s trip to Hull with injury, whilst the Rhinos have Beau Falloon back in contention. Joel Moon and Brett Delaney have been ruled out with injury.
This game rarely disappoints and if it is anything close to the spectacle they both served up at Old Trafford in October, then we’re in for a cracker on Friday night.
Catalans Dragons v Warrington Wolves
The Dragons will be hoping to build on last week’s battling victory at Wakefield with a win at the Gilbert Brutus Stadium against an in-form Warrington Wolves.
Much was made of the Dragons’ recruitment in the off-season, and there are signs that they are coming together and gelling on the field, and this can only bode well for Laurent Frayssinous ahead of this game. Morgan Escare has forced himself back into contention and is the only change in the 19-man squad from last weekend, replacing Alrix Da Costa.
Warrington, like Wigan, are four wins from their opening four games, but will hope this weekend’s game is less dramatic than their comeback victory against Salford Red Devils, which required a drop goal from Chris Sandow on the full time hooter to win the game.
Kurt Gildey is a welcome return to the Wolves 19-man squad travelling to the South of France, and a victory in Perpignan could signal the Wolves’ intent on staking a claim for Old Trafford after an underwhelming 2015.
Huddersfield Giants v Hull Kingston Rovers
This is the meeting of the two sides left in Super League that have yet to record a victory in the league thus far, and both will be wanting to change that this weekend.
The Giants have brought in Jordan Tansey on loan to help ease their ever-growing injury list, but Paul Anderson has admitted that Eorl Crabtree, Kyle Wood and Joe Wardle are all back in contention for selection. The likes of Jamie Ellis and Daniel Smith are still sidelined for Huddersfield.
Hull Kingston Rovers will no doubt be buoyed by the appointment of former Rovers star James Webster as their interim head coach, and the old cliche of ‘new coach syndrome’ may come into play for Rovers.
Players will all have a fresh start and will be fighting for shirts in the starting line up under the new head coach, and a win at the John Smith’s stadium for Hull KR could be the catalyst they need to kickstart their season.
Both of these sides have impressed in the early rounds of the 2016 season, and will be hoping to continue their good form by grabbing the win in this game this weekend.
Castleford head coach Daryl Powell continues to gain rave reviews of the work he is doing at the Tigers, and they have started this season in the same manner they did throughout 2015, by playing brilliant free-flowing attacking rugby. However, Castleford will have to take to the field this weekend without Grant Millington, Ben Roberts and Junior Moors, who are all ruled out through injury.
In all the drama surrounding the Chris Sandow drop goal that won the game for Warrington at the AJ Bell Stadium last week, it was quickly forgotten as to how well the Red Devils played during the game.
Ian Watson and Tim Sheens have done a brilliant job at the club, and have recruited well in the likes of Robert Lui, Gareth O’Brien and Ben Murdoch-Masila and they look genuine contenders for the top eight this season. With their owner making a lot of headlines off the field in the past few days, the Red Devils will be hoping to make headlines for their performances on the pitch this Sunday.