Super League Super 8s Round 3 Preview
St Helens vs Huddersfield
Round 3 of the Super 8s kicks-off with third placed St Helens taking on Huddersfield Giants who sit just below them in the table.
Saints go into this clash on the back of three consecutive defeats in all competitions and are yet to record a victory in the Super 8s stage, losing to both Catalans and Hull FC more recently. Keiron Cunningham will be disappointed with his side last week after they let slip an 18-6 lead against the Black and Whites and has described training as a “tough week”.
Huddersfield meanwhile travel to Langtree Park picking up their first points of the stage coming in the form of a 24-12 home win over Catalans Dragons. The club know a win would see them leapfrog tonight’s opponents and put them on the heels of Wigan Warriors in second.
There is a welcome return for Tommy Makinson for the first time since his leg break in June whilst Kyle Amor also re-joins the 19-man squad with Olly Davies and Matt Fleming missing out on selection.
Paul Anderson has kept faith with the same side that beat the Dragons last round and will be hoping for another positive result.
St Helens by 8
Warrington Wolves vs Wigan Warriors
Warrington Wolves will be eager to end a run of three straight defeats when rivals Wigan Warriors travel to the Halliwell Jones Stadium on Friday night.
Since being knocked out of the Challenge Cup by Hull KR, the Wolves haven’t been performing to the levels expected of them. After the opening round 49-10 humbling at the hands of Leeds Rhinos, Tony Smith’s side faced Castleford Tigers but succumbed to a late Liam Finn drop-goal losing 17-16.
The Wolves have made one change with Gareth O’Brien back in the fold with Rhys Evans missing out with a shoulder injury. If selected it will see Chris Sandow making his home debut for the club after featuring in the last two away games.
Shaun Wane will have highlighted to his side the need to bounce back after their 25-18 defeat last time out against Leeds –which extended their lead at the top to four points.
Second-placed Wigan have named Oliver Gildart, son of former Wigan player Ian, in their squad along with Dom Crosby and Michael Mcllorum despite the later having an eye injury. There is no place for Anthony Gelling and Taulima Tautai who remain side-lined.
Wigan Warriors by 12
Hull FC vs Leeds Rhinos
Hull FC host Leeds Rhinos at the KC Stadium on Friday night hoping to clinch another two points in their quest for an unlikely top four spot.
Lee Radford’s troops sit second-bottom on 24 points, six behind Huddersfield in fourth with a far inferior points difference. The side picked up two points last round coming in the form of an impressive 32-22 win at Langtree Park over reigning Super League champions St Helens.
For Leeds they could extend their lead at the summit to six points if they overcome Hull and brushed aside their nearest challenger Wigan 25-18 with two late tries by Wigan giving the scoreline a more respectable look.
Hull’s win over Saints came at a cost with the news that Setaimata Sa picked up an Achilles injury whilst Jordan Thompson has an ankle complaint. The news will come as a blow but that was offset by the returns of Steve Michaels, Jack Logan, Chris Green, Dean Hadley and Iafeta Paleaaesina returning from injuries. That said Hull have made two changes with Logan and Michaels coming in for Sa and Thompson.
Leeds may opt to rest some of their senior players with one eye on the Challenge Cup final at Wembley against Hull KR on the horizon.
Brian McDermott has still named a strong team but Kallum Watkins, Brett Delaney, Jimmy Keinhorst and Joel Moon drop out with Josh Walters, Robbie Ward, Ashton Golding and Ash Handley making the 19-man cut.
Mitch Achurch is named in the side despite suffering a nasty head knock in last week’s victory.
Leeds Rhinos by 16
Catalans Dragons vs Castleford Tigers
Castleford Tigers are looking to extend their 100% Super 8s record when they travel to the Stade Gilbert Brutus to face Catalans Dragons on Saturday.
The Tigers have so far beaten Hull FC and Warrington Wolves in the Super 8s and are currently in 5thposition in the table but face a Catalans side who are a different prospect on home soil.
Sitting bottom of the table, Catalans know their chances of reaching the semi-finals are slim and go into this crunch game buoyed by the last time they played at home beating St Helens 26-16.
Laurent Frayssinous has lost Remi Casty to injury after he underwent surgery to repair his ACL this week and he may opt to name the same team that took to the field at the John Smith’s Stadium. The French side will bring back Ben Pomeroy who has served his one-match suspension.
Cas, meanwhile have only Frankie Mariano as their long-term absentee but are likely to name an unchanged team for this fixture.
Castleford Tigers by 10
Published on August 20 2015 for Rugby AM.