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Super League Round 21 Preview

Thursday

Wigan Warriors vs Leeds Rhinos

Leeds Rhinos will have the opportunity to lay one hand on the league leaders’ shield when they travel to the DW Stadium to take on Wigan Warriors.

Already three points clear at the top of the standings, the Rhinos could extend that advantage to five on Thursday night – effectively putting Wigan out of the reckoning.

Shaun Wane will be looking for a response following their 17-6 defeat against Warrington Wolves and welcomes back Tony Clubb from injury and John Bateman. Completing the three changes to their 19-man squad sees Dom Manfredi lose his place with an ankle problem with Josh Charnley getting a chance. Wane will give late fitness tests to captain Sean O’Loughlin and stand-off George Williams.

Brian McDermott will likely switch Kallum Watkins to full-back with Zak Hardaker picking up a one match ban for his tackle on Travis Burns in last 46-18 thrashing over St Helens. Josh Walters and Rob Mulhern have been recalled from duel registration with Hunslet to cover the absence of Stevie Ward.

Leeds Rhinos by 10

Friday

St Helens vs Huddersfield Giants

In what should be a cracking encounter St Helens, wounded by their last outing, face off against an in-form Huddersfield Giants at Langtree Park on Friday night.

Keiron Cunningham was left “embarrassed” by his side’s 46-18 humbling at the hands of Leeds Rhinos and will demand a much improved performance from his troops. A win for Saints will close the gap on Leeds but heading into the Super 8’s Cunningham will want a consistent level of performance.

Huddersfield will travel with no fear on the back of three consecutive wins the latest a 32-14 victory over Hull Kingston Rovers. Two points for Paul Anderson’s team could see the club leapfrog Wigan into third but this will be a stern test for his men.

Saints will hand a debut to mid-season signing Adam Quinlan with the 22-year-old signing a short-term contract from Parramatta Ells. Luke Thompson also makes his return to the 19 but there is no place for Jon Wilkin who has a minor leg complaint.

The Giants have made one change and included 21-year-old Nathan Mason in the squad to face Saints with Leeds-bound Anthony Mullally dropping out.

St Helens by 14

Sunday

Hull FC vs Castleford Tigers

Castleford Tigers will be looking for their sixth consecutive win in Super League when they make the short journey to the KC Stadium to face Hull FC.

Arguably the in-form team in the competition Cas have propelled themselves up the table in recent weeks and currently sit fifth only two points off second-placed St Helens.

For Hull, this fixture presents a good opportunity to gain a foothold in the Super 8’s but it will be no easy task for the black and whites who bounced back from their shock defeat against Wakefield to beat the same opponents 31-24 four days later.

Hull FC will be without Micky Paea after he was given a two-match ban for a tackle on Danny Washbrook. The news will be a blow to Lee Radford with the departing forward the club’s leading player in terms of metres made.

Mark Minichiello may return to the squad after missing the last two games through a calf injury along with Kirk Yeaman.

For Cas Denny Solomona will be looking to score in his sixth consecutive game having been in scintillating form. There are fitness concerns surrounding Nathan Massey who went off during their 34-20 win over Widnes with an ankle injury.

Castleford Tigers by 8

Salford Red Devils vs Hull Kingston Rovers

Hull Kingston Rovers will be looking to climb into the top-eight at the expense of Hull FC when they take on Salford Red Devils at the AJ Bell Stadium on Sunday.

Salford know only a win will do if they are to push for an unlikely top-eight spot but did their chances good when they beat Catalans Dragons 18-14 with a brace of tries from Michael Dobson.

The Robins had been in good form in recent weeks but they were turned over 32-14 against Huddersfield in abysmal second-half conditions.

The two played against each other at the end of June in a rearranged fixture from earlier rounds and KR just edged that running out 34-28 victors with Albert Kelly scoring the winning try.

Salford may be handed an injury boost with the news that Tommy Lee may make a return from a long-standing knee injury but this game may be just too soon for the hooker.

Chris Chester will be without the services of on-loan Red Devil Tony Puletua and question marks surrounding the involvement of Adam Walker. This should see Aaron Ollett come back into the side with the youngster putting in some solid displays in recent weeks.

Hull Kingston Rovers by 12

Wakefield Trinity Wildcats vs Warrington Wolves

Warrington Wolves will be looking for back-to-back wins in Super League for the first time since May when they lock horns with Wakefield Trinity Wildcats at Belle Vue on Sunday.

The Wolves have lost pace on the top five in the last rounds with mixed results but pulled off a superb 17-6 win over Wigan last weekend.

Wakefield, under the stewardship of Brian Smith, have improved since his appointment and despite ending their 16 game losing run against Hull FC, they got back to losing ways at the hands of the same opponents – losing 31-24 at the KC Stadium.

The Wildcats will be eager for revenge over Tony Smith’s side after they were thumped 80-0 the last time to two sides played with Richie Meyler scoring a hat-trick.

Wakefield should bring a number of players including full-back Kevin Locke after he was rested in their last game. There will be no place for Richard Owen who has entered rehab at Sporting Chance.

Prop Mickael Simon will also miss the clash after being handed a one-game ban for raising his knees in the tackle against Hull.

Warrington will be without influential forward Ashton Simms after he was charged with a grade B punching offence and subsequently banned for one game after submitting an early guilty plea. Hooker Daryl Clark also admitted a grade A offence for dangerous contact but escaped a ban.

Warrington Wolves by 18

Widnes Vikings vs Catalans Dragons

Both Widnes Vikings and Catalans Dragons will be looking for a response following defeats in the previous round when they face each other at the Select Security Stadium.

Widnes succumbed to a 34-20 loss away at Castleford but battled their way back from 18-0 down at one stage. Whilst Catalans continued their poor away form by losing 18-14 to Salford Red Devils.

Losing Kevin Brown is a huge loss for the Vikings and that has shown in recent results with the side on the back of four straight losses leaving their top-eight hopes hanging by a thread.

Denis Betts is likely to bring back Patrick Ah Van and Stefan Marsh for their game with Laurent Frayssinous’ side.

The French outfit still have a lengthy long-term injury list containing Zeb Taia, Todd Carney, Thomas Bosc, Michael Oldfield, Willie Tonga and Vincent Duport.

Widnes Vikings by 12

Published on July 9 2015 for Rugby AM.

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