Super League Round 22 Preview
Warrington Wolves vs St Helens
Thursday night’s Sky game sees a resurgent Warrington Wolves face off against a St Helens side still within a chance of the League Leader’s Shield.
The Wolves have had a turn of form of late winning their last three games in all competitions with their last win coming after they beat Wakefield Trinity Wildcats 40-20 at Belle Vue.
For Saints, they put the 46-18 humbling against Leeds Rhinos behind them by overcoming arguably the form team in the division Huddersfield Giants in a thrilling 35-34 triumph.
Whichever side wins the forward battle will no doubt be victorious in this clash and Tony Smith has welcomed back a trio of frontmen in the form of Ben Currie, Ashton Simms and Anthony England into his 19-man squad. The three changes see Harvey Livett, Declan Patton and Sam Wilde lose their respective place in the side.
Keiron Cunningham has made just the one change to his side that beat the Giants with Jon Wilkin coming back into the side with Mark Flanagan missing out.
St Helens by 8
Wigan Warriors vs Widnes Vikings
Wigan coach Shaun Wane has said his side are approaching their game with Widnes Vikings “like a Grand Final” as the club look to close the gap on leaders Leeds Rhinos.
A win for Wigan would see them end the regular season undefeated at home going into the Super 8s, whilst Widnes know they must win both their games to give them any chance of making the top-eight.
The Warriors head into this penultimate fixture on the back of their last gasp 26-24 win over Leeds Rhinos bouncing back from their disappointing 17-6 loss against Warrington Wolves.
Denis Betts’ side ended their four match losing streak against Catalans Dragons last round but had to come from 12-0 down to beat the French team 29-22.
Wigan centre Dan Sarginson misses this game with a hamstring injury whilst the departing Matty Bowen is rested. Coming into the squad are Ryan Hampshire, who will adopt the full-back slot, and Ryan Sutton. Liam Farrell is named in the squad despite not training but will be given a fitness check prior to the game.
Widnes have named an unchanged team from the one that beat Catalans hoping continuity will bring another positive result.
Wigan Warriors by 18
Hull Kingston Rovers vs Hull FC
What has been dubbed “desperation derby” by local media sees Hull Kingston Rovers needing a win over Hull FC if they are to stand any chance of reaching the top-eight.
The Robins sit in 9th position on 18 points with Hull FC just above them on 20 points and the red and whites know nothing less than a win will do.
Rovers will be kicking themselves after their last game saw them lose 31-18 despite having an 18-4 advantage at half-time. For Lee Radford’s men his team talk will have been pretty straight forward beat the boys from across the city and you pretty much end their top-eight aspirations.
Hull KR have made three changes to the team seeing Greg Burke, Matty Marsh and Tony Puletua coming in with Jordan Cox, John Boudebza and James Greenwood missing out.
Chris Chester has named Albert Kelly despite saying he played the second-half of the Salford defeat “on one leg”, the influential half-back will be given until the day of the game to prove his fitness before making a decision.
Hull FC have welcomed back both Gareth Ellis and Mark Minichiello to their side but will be without the services of Mickey Paea after their appeal to overturn his two-game ban was rejected.
Hull FC by 10
Leeds Rhinos vs Salford Red Devils
Leeds Rhinos could put one hand on the League Leader’s Shield when they take on Salford Red Devils on Friday night at Headingley Stadium.
The Rhinos could go into this game in second place depending on the Thursday night result between Warrington Wolves and St Helens or they could be within touching distance of finishing the regular season on top.
Wanting to get back to winning ways after their 26-24 loss to Wigan, Leeds face a resurgent Salford side who are looking for three back-to-back wins following victories over Catalans and Hull KR.
Zak Hardaker is back available following his one-match suspension which should see Kallum Watkins revert back to his usual position. Recent signing Mitch Garbutt also makes a return to the 19-man squad after recovering from a back injury but there is no place for Tom Briscoe. The former Hull man has missed the last 18 games and it was hoped he would feature against Salford so Ash Handley will continue to keep his place – whilst veteran forward Jamie Peacock is rested.
Salford, unsurprisingly, have stuck with the same team that beat Hull KR last round eager to build some form before the split.
Leeds Rhinos by 16
Catalans Dragons vs Huddersfield Giants
Catalans Dragons will be hoping to cement their top-eight position when they take on Huddersfield Giants at Stade Gilbert Brutus on Saturday.
The French side return to Perpignan for the first time in nearly a month on the road looking to end their three-game losing sequence. Most recently they threw away a 12-0 lead against Widnes Vikings to lose 29-22 despite a flurry of late tries.
For Huddersfield, already assured of their place in the Super 8s, they will be looking for a response following their 35-34 last gasp defeat against St Helens and build some momentum ahead of the league divide.
Laurent Frayssinous will be without the services of youngster Foud Yaha after the winger was sidelined for 6-8 weeks with a shoulder injury. He joins Vincent Duport, Todd Carney, Thomas Bosc, Eloi Pellissier, Willie Toga and Stan Robin on the injury list.
Paul Anderson will have Brett Ferres back in action with a chance to redeem himself after his two-match ban for punching. Recent Wakefield signing Dan Smith is also expected to make his debut for the club but there will be no place for Jake Connor, who faces time on the sidelines with knee ligament damage on duel-registration.
Huddersfield by 8
Wakefield Trinity Wildcats vs Castleford Tigers
Castleford Tigers will be looking to get back to winning ways against the improving Wakefield Trinity Wildcats on Sunday.
Jacob Miller scored four tries in vein as Wakefield succumbed to a 40-20 defeat at the hands of Warrington Wolves in the last round but can take heart by the way they performed.
For Cas, Daryl Powell described his side’s second-half performance against Hull FC as “unrecognisable” after his team threw away a half-time lead to lose 21-18 at the KC Stadium.
Wakefield should give a debut to loan signing Anthony Mullally but lost Dan Smith to Huddersfield as a result. Coach Brian Smith may stick with the same squad that lost to the Wolves but he has a relatively clean bill of health injury wise.
Luke Gale should return for the Tigers after he missed the defeat to Hull through illness and Powell hopes centre Jake Webster will be fit following a head injury.
Castleford Tigers by 10
Published on July 16 2015 for Rugby AM.