Salford Red Devils vs St Helens


St Helens will be looking to make it two wins from two when they take on Salford Red Devils on Thursday at the AJ Bell Stadium.

The Saints overcame Huddersfield Giants 30-16 in the opening round of Super League despite being level at half-time. Second-half tries from Jordan Turner and Luke Thompson ensured the two points but the game was marred by a serious looking injury to hooker James Roby on the hour mark.

Salford meanwhile, travelled to the KC Stadium to take on Hull FC in their curtain raiser and will have been disappointed with how they performed in the 42-20 loss despite how strong the Black and Whites look.

The Airlie birds opened up a 20-point lead at the interval after first-half scores from Leon Pryce, Mahe Fonua, Jordan Thompson, Fetuli Talanoa and Carlos Tuimavave – with Josh Griffin in reply for the visitors.

Further tries from Josh Bowden, Jack Logan and Jamie Shaul was to follow early in the second-half but Salford hit back through Junior Sau’u (2) and Niall Evalds undeterred after Tommy Lee had been sin-binned but Hull had the points wrapped up.

Head coach Ian Watson admitted his side “gave too much ball away” and has made one change to his 19-man squad with Greg Johnson replacing Sau’u, who presumably has picked up an injury.

Keiron Cunningham has been forced into two changes with Dominique Peyroux and James Roby absent with injuries allowing Morgan Knowles and Calvin Wellington to come into the squad.

The Red Devils lost both games last season with the home match a crushing 52-6 defeat with Mark Percival, Jordan Turner and Joe Greenwood all bagging two tries apiece in a ten try romp.

Salford Red Devils: Niall Evalds, Justin Carney, Josh Griffin, Robert Lui, Michael Dobson, Craig Kopczak, Tommy Lee, George Griffin, Ben Murdoch-Masila, Mark Flanagan, Gareth O’Brien, Adam Walne, Olsi Krasniqi, Phil Joseph, Greg Johnson, Logan Tomkins, Ryan Lannon, Matt Sarsfield, Josh Jones.

St Helens: Tommy Makinson, Jordan Turner, Mark Percival, Adam Swift, Luke Walsh, Alex Walmsley, Kyle Amor, Atelea Vea, Jon Wilkin, Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook. Lama Tasi, Greg Richards, Andre Savelio, Luke Thompson, Theo Fages, Joe Greenwood, Jack Owens, Morgan Knowles, Calvin Wellington.

Prediction: St Helens by 18

Published on February 11 2016 for Rugby AM.

Huddersfield Giants vs Wigan Warriors


Huddersfield are facing an ever-growing injury crisis ahead of their home game against Wigan Warriors at the John Smith’s Stadium on Friday night.

The club, already without the services of Craig Huby, Joe Wardle and Kyle Wood, saw their injury list swell after their 30-16 opening round defeat against St Helens with Scott Grix needing surgery on a dislocated shoulder which could see him out of action for five months.

Forward Eorl Crabtree picked up a groin injury which may require surgery whilst half-back Danny Brough suffered a dead leg. Add to that the sad mid-week news that Luke Robinson has had to retire due to a hip complaint, the Giants face an uphill battle against the Warriors.

Paul Anderson has named his 19-man squad and has been forced into four changes seeing Sam Wood, Darnell McIntosh, Mikey Wood and trialist Jamie Foster named in the side.

Shaun Wane’s Wigan side overcame Catalans Dragons at the DW Stadium but the conditions played their part in their gritty 12-6 win with the head coach saying “I thought we handled the conditions and were smart most of the time, I was desperate to get the two points that was the main thing.”

Michael Mccllorum scored a brace of tries as the Cherry and Whites opened up a 10-0 half-time lead before Justin Horo pulled one back for Catalans.

Wigan have made one change from their squad that beat the French side with Greg Burke replacing Lee Mossop.

Huddersfield Giants: Jermaine McGillvary, Leroy Cudjoe, Aaron Murphy, Jamie Ellis, Ryan Hinchcliffe, Michael Lawrence, Larne Patrick, Daniel Smith, Sam Rapira, Ukuma Ta’ai, Jake Connor, Josh Johnson, Kruise Leeming, Nathan Mason, Oliver Roberts, Mikey Wood, Jamie Foster, Darnell McIntosh, Sam Wood

Wigan Warriors: John Bateman, Gregg Burke, Josh Charnley, Tony Clubb, Liam Farrell, Ben Flower, Anthony Gelling, Oliver Gildart, Willie Isa, Dom Manfredi, Michael McIlorum, Sean O¹Loughlin, Sam Powell, Dan Sarginson, Matty Smith, Ryan Sutton, Taulima Tautai, Lewis Tierney, George Williams

Prediction: Wigan Warriors by 16

Published on February 12 2016 for Rugby AM.

Catalans Dragons vs Hull FC


Catalans Dragons will be hoping their good home form of last year hasn’t deserted them when Hull FC travel to the Stade Gilbert Brutus today.

Laurent Frayssinous’ side had one of the best home records in Super League last year but were let down by their away day blues. The club lost only twice on home turf against Leeds Rhinos and Huddersfield Giants but face a Hull FC side eager to prove they are the real deal this season.

Both sides has mixed opening rounds with Catalans losing 12-6 against Wigan Warriors whereas the Black and Whites picked apart Salford Red Devils in a 42-20 victory at the KC Stadium.

Whoever wins the battle of the forwards will come out on top with new boys David Taylor, Glenn Stewart and Justin Horo eager to impress on their home debuts. They’ll come up against arguably one of the biggest front rows in the competition in Scott Taylor, Frank Pritchard, Liam Watts, Gareth Ellis and Mark Minchiello making this battle of attrition certainly one to keep an eye on.

Catalans have made two changes to their 19-man side to take on Hull with one being forced with the news that Paul Aiton has torn a pectoral muscle meaning a spell on the sidelines for the former Leeds man. Under-19 hooker Alrix Da Costa comes into the side as does the now fit again Thomas Bosc at the expense of Stan Robin.

Hull FC welcome back club captain Gareth Ellis, in one of two changes to Lee Radford’s squad, after the talismanic forward missed their opening round victory over the Red Devils. Having Ellis back has been offset by a knee injury to Maha Fonua who is out for up to six weeks, despite initially fears he would be out for months, with Steve Michaels taking his place in the squad.

Catalans Dragons: Tony Gigot, Krisnan Inu, Vincent Duport, Pat Richards, Todd Carney, Richie Myler, Louis Anderson, Glenn Stewart, Justin Horo, Jason Baitieri, Dave Taylor, Julian Bousquet, Eloi Pelissier, Greg Mounis, Thomas Bosc, Olivier Elima, Fouad Yaha, Antoni Maria, Alrix Da Costa

Hull FC: Josh Bowden, Gareth Ellis, Chris Green, Danny Houghton, Jack Logan, Sika Manu, Steve Michaels, Mark Minichiello, Feka Paleaaesina, Frank Pritchard, Leon Pryce, Jamie Shaul, Marc Sneyd, Fetuli Talanoa, Scott Taylor, Jordan Thompson, Carlos Tuimavave, Danny Washbrook, Liam Watts

Prediction: Hull FC by 10

Published on February 13 2016 for Rugby AM.

Warrington Wolves vs Hull KR


Warrington Wolves will be eager to build upon their opening round victory when they take to the field against Hull Kingston Rovers today at the Halliwell Jones Stadium.

The Wolves overcame the reigning champions Leeds Rhinos in round one prevailing in a narrow but deserved 12-10 victory with Chris Sandow and Kevin Penny scoring the tries. Their opponents also pulled off somewhat of a shock with the Robins playing out a 16-16 draw at home to Castleford Tigers. A game which saw Josh Mantellato kick a conversion after the final hooter to earn a share of the spoils.

Revenge may be a word batted around the Wolves camp with Hull KR beating the side 26-18 in the semi-final stage of the Challenge Cup last year. With that in mind Tony Smith has made just the one change from their opening squad with Ryan Atkins now fit for selection with Joe Philbin the man to make way.

The Red and Whites will know they face an even greater battle coming up against a buoyant Warrington Wolves squad. Chris Chester will be without the services of Mantellato, who tore his retina in the act of scoring in their last game, along with young half-back Matty Marsh and John Boudebza who is serving the first of his controversial four-match ban.

Coming into the side in three changes is Liam Salter, Stephen Holker and Adam Walker despite an on-going Police investigation involving the latter of the trio.

Warrington Wolves: Ryan Atkins, Daryl Clark, Ben Currie, Jordan Cox, Brad Dwyer, Rhys Evans, Kurt Gidley, Chris Hill, Jack Hughes, Benjamin Jullien, George King, Tom Lineham, Kevin Penny, Matty Russell, Chris Sandow, Ashton Simms, Joe Westerman, Ben Westwood, Gary Wheeler

Hull Kingston Rovers: Ken Sio, Liam Salter, Iain Thornley, Kieran Dixon, Albert Kelly, Adam Walker, Mitch Allgood, Maurice Blair, Graeme Horne, Chris Clarkson, James Donaldson, James Green, Dane Tilse, Ben Cockayne, James Greenwood, Thomas Minns, George Lawler, Stephen Holker, Robbie Mulhern

Prediction: Warrington Wolves by 12

Published on February 14 2016 for Rugby AM.

Widnes Vikings vs Leeds Rhinos


Leeds Rhinos travel to the Select Security Stadium hoping to record their first victory of the season against Widnes Vikings.

Leeds Rhinos’ defence of their Super League crown got off to the worst possible start after a spirited Warrington Wolves claimed the two points after a 12-10 victory at Headingley.

Perhaps more damagingly was the news that half-back Danny McGuire will be out for two months after suffering a knee injury which will see him also miss the World Club Challenge.

Widnes opened their account with a 24-16 triumph away at Wakefield Wildcats with tries from Setaimata Sa (2), Rhys Hanbury and Lloyd White.

Last season the Rhinos won their home fixture at a canter 38-6 but lost their away match slumping to a 38-24 loss.

Vikings coach Denis Betts has made just the solitary change seeing Patrick Ah Van make way for Matt Whitley. Whilst Rhinos’ Head coach Brian McDermott has brought in youngsters Ash Handley and Ashton Golding into their 19-man squad. Injuries to both McGuire and hooker Beau Falloon have ruled them out of contention.

Widnes Vikings: Chris Bridge, Kevin Brown, Hep Cahill, Chris Dean, Gil Dudson, Connor Farrell, Rhys Hanbury, Aaron Heremaia, Chris Houston, Macgrff Leuluai, Manase Manuokafoa, Stefan Marsh, Joe Mellor, Eamon O’Carroll, Charly Runciman, Setaimata Sa, Corey Thompson, Lloyd White, Matt Whitley

Leeds Rhinos: Zak Hardaker, Tom Briscoe, Kallum Watkins, Joel Moon, Ryan Hall, Rob Burrow, Keith Galloway, Adam Cuthbertson, Carl Ablett, Liam Sutcliffe, Brett Delaney, Brad Singleton, Mitch Garbutt, Jimmy Keinhorst, Josh Walters, Ash Handley, Ashton Golding, Jordan Lilley, Brett Ferres

Prediction: Leeds Rhinos by 14

Published on February 14 2016 for Rugby AM.

Castleford Tigers vs Wakefield Wildcats


Castleford Tigers will have to put the loss of captain Michael Shenton behind them when they host rivals Wakefield Wildcats today.

Shenton suffered a season-ending anterior cruciate knee ligament injury during a tackle in their 16-16 draw with Hull Kingston Rovers in their season opener. Said tackle by John Boudebza resulted in the Frenchman controversially being awarded a four-match ban of which an appeal was rejected.

Luke Gale has now been tasked with taking over the captaincy in the absence of Shenton with Daryl Powell saying: “I think it’s a good opportunity for him to show that he can lead this side.”

Andy Lynch and Nathan Massey are set to make their first appearances of the season after being left out of the draw at Hull KR.

Brian Smith will have been encouraged by Wakefield’s second-half showing against Widnes. Trailing 18-4 at the interval the Wildcats pulled some points back but ultimately fell short losing 24-16 at home.

Former Castleford centre Ashley Gibson comes into replace Chris Annakin in their only change with Liam Finn also taking to the field against his former employers.

Castleford Tigers: Matt Cook, Ben Crooks, Luke Dorn, Luke Gale, Ryan Hampshire, Oliver Holmes, Lee Jewitt, Andy Lynch, Nathan Massey, Mike McMeeken, Paul McShane, Will Maher, Grant Millington, Adam Milner, Junior Moors, Joel Monaghan, Ben Roberts, Denny Solomona, Jake Webster.

Wakefield Wildcats: Scott Anderson, Tinirau Arona, Joe Arundel, Matty Ashurst, Anthony England, Liam Finn, Ashley Gibson, Stuart Howarth, Tom Johnstone, Ben Jones-Bishop, Danny Kirmond, Reece Lyne, Jacob Miller, Jonny Molloy, Nick Scruton, Mikey Sio, Anthony Tupou, Bill Tupou, Jason Walton.

Prediction: Castleford Tigers by 18

Published on February 14 2016 for Rugby AM.


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