Super League Round 20 Preview
Warrington Wolves vs Wigan Warriors
Round 20 begins with Warrington Wolves hosting a Wigan Warriors side eager to break into the top two of Super League.
Warrington have a quick turnaround following their 34-24 win over Leigh Centurions which saw them progress to the semi-finals of the Challenge Cup. The win for Tony Smiths’ side addressed a run of two consecutive league defeats which had seen them slip down the table.
James Laithwaite will be missing for the next ten weeks at least after it was revealed he suffered a spiral fracture of the fibula. Joel Monaghan has been ruled out for a month with a calf tear whilst Chris Bridge is awaiting scans on a hip flexor problem.
All this adds to an ever-growing injury list which already contains Toby King, Gary Wheeler, Simon Grix and Ben Evans. Covering the injuries are Harvey Livett, Declan Patton, Sam Wilde and Matty Russell returns to the fold.
Ben Currie is also missing for this derby game having been handed a suspension for making deliberate contact with a referee.
Wigan arrive at the Halliwell Jones Stadium fresh from not being involved in Challenge Cup action and a win for the Warriors could see them climb up to second.
Shaun Wane has welcomed back Anthony Gelling from his hamstring injury after ten-weeks out along with Ryan Sutton – John Bateman is rested and Ryan Hampshire loses out on the 19-man squad. The head coach also revealed his squad is nearing full fitness and received a double boost midweek with the news that Iain Thornley and Tony Clubb are nearing returns.
Wigan by 16
Leeds Rhinos vs St Helens
Its top verses second on Friday night as table toppers Leeds Rhinos entertain St Helens at Headingley ahead of their Challenge Cup semi-final in a few weeks’ time.
What should be one of the games of the season sees Leeds host this fixture looking to make it three wins on the trot in all competitions. The club convincingly dumped Hull FC out of the Challenge Cup at the weekend 24-6 in dismal conditions.
Mid-season Australian signing Mitch Garbutt should get a baptism of fire as he looks set to make his debut following his move from Brisbane Broncos. There could also be timely returns for Adam Cuthbertson and Danny McGuire from calf and ankle injuries respectively. Coach Brian McDermott will however be without Liam Sutcliffe for the rest of the season after he ruptured an anterior cruciate ligament.
St Helens have named an unchanged squad seeing Joe Greenwood at their disposal once again after he was cleared of a Grade C charge during their Challenge Cup win over Widnes Vikings. Saints legend Paul Wellens recently had to retire and received a fitting guard of honour from both teams during the club’s Challenge Cup win over Widnes. The club also filled their full-back dilemma with the signing of Adam Quinlan from Parramatta eels but the game will come too soon for his debut.
Leeds Rhinos by 4
Hull FC vs Wakefield Trinity Wildcats
Wakefield Trinity Wildcats will be looking for back-to-back wins for the first time since the opening two rounds of Super League when they travel to face Hull FC at the KC Stadium.
The Wildcats ended a 16-game losing run when the club beat Hull 26-16 despite being 16-0 down at one stage on Wednesday.
For Lee Radford’s side it saw the club slump to their fourth consecutive defeat in cup and league action and will need to address their form with neighbours Hull KR now ahead of the Airlie Birds in the league.
After the game Radford admitted Mark Minichiello, Leon Pryce and Fetuli Talanoa – who was injured in the fixture – are major doubts for the return fixture on Sunday.
Tom Lineham, and Richard Whiting were rested but should come straight back into the team for this must-win game.
Wakefield had to make a last minute reshuffle when Tim Smith dropped out of the side and he remains a doubt for the weekend’s game having said that Jacob Miller filled in admirably.
Hull FC by 10
Castleford Tigers vs Widnes Vikings
Castleford Tigers will be looking to leap-frog Huddersfield Giants and close the gap on third place when Widnes Vikings travel to the Mend-A-Hose Jungle on Sunday.
Head coach Daryl Powell will be hoping the extra preparation due to their non-participation in cup action will prove pivotal, whilst Widnes need a win to keep up any top-eight aspirations. Denis Betts’ side sit in tenth place three points from Hull KR with their task becoming ever more difficult by the week. Against arguably one of the in-form teams in Super League at the minute the task for Widnes looks unenviable.
The Tigers have Luke Dorn back in contention at the weekend but Powell may opt against a change following the impressive performance of Ben Roberts at full-back. The club will be missing Frankie Mariano for the foreseeable after he underwent major knee surgery.
The Vikings will have to put their 36-20 Challenge Cup exit against Saints behind them and could be dealt a major blow with the news that Kevin Brown will be out of action for six weeks with an ankle injury. Tom Gilmore will be looking to step into fill the void left by the talismanic Brown ahead of the clash.
Castleford Tigers by 16
Huddersfield Giants vs Hull Kingston Rovers
Hull Kingston Rovers will be looking to make it four wins on the trot when they travel to the John Smiths Stadium on Sunday to face Huddersfield Giants.
Chris Chester’s men made it four on the bounce after backing up their Challenge Cup victory with a 34-28 win over Salford Red Devils just five days later. The club face a much greater task when they make the short trip to fourth-placed Huddersfield with some no doubt tiring bodies.
Huddersfield, fresh from no cup action, come into this game eager to cut the deficit on the top three after back-to-back wins over Warrington Wolves and Widnes Vikings.
The Giants will be without Brett Ferres who was banned for two games after submitting an early-guilty plea to a grade C charge of punching Rhys Hanbury. Aaron Murphy could make his return following a knee-injury with Paul Anderson’s side nearly at full strength.
The Robins rested some of their players for the Salford clash and should see Ken Sio, John Boudebza Jordan Cox and Tyrone McCarthy return to the squad.
Huddersfield Giants by 14
Salford Red Devils vs Catalans Dragons
Catalans Dragons will be hoping to banish their away day blues when they take on Salford Red Devils on Sunday.
The Dragons notoriously don’t travel well but that will have to change sooner rather than later against a Salford side who look destined for the middle 8’s.
Red Devils’ head coach lestyn Harris was “devastated” after his side lost 34-28 against Hull Kingston Rovers midweek with the winning-try coming from a kick-off and bouncing back into the arms of Albert Kelly.
Having played during the week and the quick turnaround Salford may throw a few youngsters into the fray offering some senior players a rest.
Catalans sit in sixth in the table but could do with a win to assure their top eight position but lost their Challenge Cup quarter-final fixture and will no doubt have some bruised bodies in their ranks meaning squad rotation may come into effect.
Catalans by 8
Published on June 29 2015 for Rugby AM.