Hull FC vs Castleford Tigers


Hull FC host Castleford Tigers on tonight in front of the Sky cameras in the hope of maintaining their winning start.

The Black and Whites, now top of the table on points difference after Salford’s win over Widnes, have beaten both the Red Devils and Catalans and now entertain the Tigers looking to extend that 100% run.

Having had a week off, Lee Radford’s side come into this fixture fresh and have a relatively clean bill of health with only Mahe Fonua on the sidelines. If Hull FC were to pull off another victory it would certainly raise eyebrows amongst Super League as they look to be the early pace setters.

Radford has made just the solitary change to his 19-man ranks with Jordan Abdull coming into the side in place of Iafeata Paleaaesina. Two tries for the 20 year-old in Doncasters’ 35-28 win over North Wales Crusaders was suitably rewarded with a call up to the first-team.

Castleford gained the spoils early last season before Hull won their game at the KC Stadium narrowly edging a 21-18 win with Tom Lineham grabbing a brace of tries.

The Tigers face their biggest test of the season so far having drawn the opening round against Hull Kingston Rovers before more recently securing a comprehensive 40-6 win over Wakefield Wildcats.

Understandably given the manner of their victory last round head coach Daryl Powell has opted to name an unchanged team to take to the field at the KC Stadium as his side looks for back-to-back victories.

The fixture will also see Ben Crooks play against his former employers where he was included in the 2013 Super League Dream Team and saw him win the Young Player of the Year after a memorable year on the East Coast.

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

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

Prediction: Hull FC by 8

Published on February 25 2016 for Rugby AM.

Wigan Warriors vs Salford Red Devils



Wigan Warriors return to Super League action to take on Salford Red Devils following their participation in the Club World Series.

The Warriors took on the NRL runners-up Brisbane Broncos but suffered a 42-12 defeat on a night which was compounded with injuries to a trio of players to pour salt into the wound.

Of the three injuries the more serious is that of hooker Michael McIlorum, who sustained a broken ankle in the 16th minute of their loss and is expected to be out for as many as six months. Willie Isa is facing a six week stint in the treatment room but Josh Charnley should be back as early as next week.

Shaun Wane will aim to use their humbling defeat as motivation going into their fixture against the Red Devils and has made three changes to his squad. Coming into the 19-man squad is Lee Mossop, Nick Gregson and Joe Betherton as the club look to maintain their winning start.

But Wigan can’t afford to take the Red Devils lightly as St Helens found out in round two being defeated 44-10 in a nine try rout. The Red Devils have recorded consecutive wins more recently beating Widnes Vikings 28-20 on home soil. The club only managed three wins on the trot once in the regular season but have the chances as early as round three.

Junior Sa’u is officially named in the 19-man squad having been a late inclusion in their win over the Vikings whilst Jordan Walne also coming into the squad for the first time this campaign.

Wigan Warriors: John Bateman, Joe Bretherton, Gregg Burke, Tony Clubb, Liam Farrell, Ben Flower, Anthony Gelling, Oliver Gildart, Nick Gregson, Dom Manfredi, Lee Mossop, Sean O’Loughlin, Sam Powell, Dan Sarginson, Matty Smith, Ryan Sutton, Taulima Tautai, Lewis Tierney, George Williams

Salford Red Devils: Justin Carney, Michael Dobson, Niall Evalds, Mark Flanagan, George Griffin, Josh Griffin, Greg Johnson, Josh Jones, Craig Kopzcak, Olsi Krasniqi, Ryan Lannon, Tommy Lee, Rob Lui, Ben Murdoch-Masila, Gareth O’Brien, Matt Sarsfield, Junior Sa’u, Logan Tomkins, Jordan Walne

Prediction: Wigan by 16

Published on February 25 2016 for Rugby AM.

Hull Kingston Rovers vs St Helens


Willie Poaching will take temporary charge of his first Hull Kingston Rovers game when they host St Helens tonight at the KC Lightstream Stadium after the mid-week sacking of Chris Chester.

The Robins will have been disappointed with the manner of their 14-12 loss at home to Wakefield Wildcats, none more so than their supporters who aired their thoughts with a chorus of boos at full-time. If the club were to avoid being in the bottom four again they will have pinpointed maximum points against the likes of Wakefield.

That said their start, although blighted with injuries, has culminated in the sacking of Chester just three games into the current season.

Rovers have a well-documented injury list with Terry Campese, Kevin Larroyer, Josh Mantellato, Shaun Lunt, James Donaldson in the treatment room and their were concerns that more might be added after their home loss to the Wildcats.

Those fears have been quashed however with Chris Clarkson, Ben Cockayne, Liam Salter and Albert Kelly all being named in an unchanged squad for tonight’s match.

St Helens, like Wigan Warriors and Leeds Rhinos, were in World Club Series action last week and, like the other English sides, tasted defeat against Sydney Roosters. The NRL side ran in seven tries, including two from Aidan Guerra, in a 38-12 victory in which the Saints were well beaten.

Eager for a response Keiron Cunningham travels to East Hull with Saints looking to secure their first league win at Hull KR for nine seasons. The last time two points were won was 40-0 win back in June 2007 which ironically Cunningham scored in. They did however beat Hull KR away in the 2008 Challenge Cup.

Cunningham was handed a much welcomed boost when he named his side seeing James Roby, Shannon McDonnell and Matty Dawson all return from injuries to add to his options. Losing their places are Morgan Knowles, Theo Fages and Greg Richards.

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

St Helens: Tommy Makinson, Jordan Turner, Adam Swift, Travis Burns, Luke Walsh, Alex Walmsley, James Roby, Kyle Amor, Atelea Vea, Jon Wilkin, Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Lama Tasi, Andre Savelio, Luke Thompson, Dominique Peyroux, Joe Greenwood, Matty Dawson, Jack Owens, Shannon McDonnell

Prediction: St Helens by 16

Published on February 26 2016 for Rugby AM.

Warrington Wolves vs Wakefield Wildcats


Wakefield Wildcats travel to the Halliwell Jones Stadium to take on Warrington Wolves eager to back up their previous round win.

The Wildcats secured their first win of the season beating Hull Kingston Rovers 14-12 in a gritty performance which saw them defend their line valiantly at times.

After defeats against Widnes Vikings and Castleford Tigers, the two points was a welcome boost to the Wakefield camp who will know they need to be beating the likes of Hull KR if they are to avoid finishing in the bottom four.

Warrington wouldn’t have wanted the World Club Series break given the momentum they have gathered so far after wins over Leeds Rhinos and Hull KR. However, that said the extra week off has allowed some of their injured bodies to return.

The club have made just one change to their squad with Ben Westwood being ruled out for a few weeks having an operation on his ankle paving the way for Joe Philbin to stake a claim for a regular spot.

During the mid-week press conference head coach Tony Smith admitted Stefan Ratchford, Ben Evans and Mitchell Dodds are close to returning but the Wakefield clash is deemed too soon for the duo with next week a more realistic target.

Brian Smith has made two changes to his 19-man squad which sees Nick Scruton return to the fold along with Anthony Walker replacing Bill Tupou and Scott Anderson with the latter picking up an injury against Hull KR. Danny Kirmond remains on the sidelines but should be fit to return next week.

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

Wakefield Wildcats: Chris Annakin, Tinirau Arona, Joe Arundel, Matty Ashurst, Anthony England, Liam Finn, Craig Hall, Stuart Howarth, Ben Jones-Bishop, Tom Johnstone, Reece Lyne, Jacob Miller, Jonny Molloy, Nick Scruton, Mickael Simon, Mickey Sio, Anthony Tupou, Jason Walton, Anthony Walker

Prediction: Warrington Wolves by 22

Published on February 26 2016 for Rugby AM.

Catalans Dragons vs Leeds Rhinos


Leeds Rhinos travel to the South of France to take on Catalans Dragons at the Stade Gilbert Brutus on Saturday after missing out on the World Club Series trophy.

The Rhinos went toe-to-toe with the NRL champions North Queensland Cowboys on Sunday who, inspired by Johnathan Thurston, secured the World Club Series trophy after a 38-4 victory.

The Super League champions, defied their injury troubles in the first-half and went into the break locked at 4-4 but the Australian side showed their class in the second and raced away with the game crossing five times. The game threatened to boil over near the end when Mitch Garbutt was sent off for a punch on Cowboys prop James Tamou – who also received a sin-binning for his involvement as both clubs finished the match a man down.

Garbutt has subsequently been banned for two matches for the punch, something which he, nor Brian McDermott needed with so many out injured. That ban has allowed young props Jordan Baldwinson and Sam Hallas to be called in the side by McDermott.

Catalans hope to return to winning ways on home soil, something they prided themselves on last year only been beaten by this rounds opponents and Huddersfield in the regular season. But last matchday saw Hull FC claim both points with a 38-10 win over the French club with Fetuli Talanoa touching down twice.

Greg Mounis escaped a ban having been charged with making a Grade A dangerous contact on Jordan Thompson having submitted an early guilty plea so maintains his place in the French side.

Laurent Frayssinous bolstered his ranks with the signing of 35 year-old Willie Mason on a one-year contract and the forward, who has 300 NRL appearances to his name, has been included in their 19-man squad ahead of his debut.

Jodie Broughton is also brought in and is expected to make his first appearance of the season for the Catalans with Fouad Yaha and Antoni Maria dropping out of the squad.

Catalans Dragons: Tony Gigot, Jodie Broughton, 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, Alrix Da Costa, Willie Mason

Leeds Rhinos: Zak Hardaker, Kallum Watkins, Joel Moon, Ryan Hall, Rob Burrow, Keith Galloway, Adam Cuthbertson, Liam Sutcliffe, Brett Delaney, Brad Singleton. Jimmy Keinhorst, Mitch Achurch, Anthony Mullally, Josh Walters, Ash Handley, Jordan Baldwinson, Jordan Lilley, Brett Ferres, Sam Hallas

Prediction: Catalans Dragons by 10

Published on February 26 2016 for Rugby AM.

Huddersfield Giants vs Widnes Vikings


Huddersfield Giants take on Widnes Vikings today at the John Smith’s Stadium still searching for their first win of the campaign.

The injury-hit Giants were narrowly beaten 18-13 by Wigan Warriors in round two thanks to a late Josh Charnley try four minutes from time.

Despite the loss head coach Paul Anderson said if his side show the same endeavour last round as this the result will be different.

Missing no less than seven players including lynchpin Danny Brough, the Giants haven’t seen any of the sidelined players return and have named an unchanged side from the one that that took on the Warriors.

Widnes Vikings have begun the season well beating Wakefield Wildcats in round one before pulling off the shock of the season so far in thumping Leeds Rhinos 56-12.

The side suffered their first loss last weekend losing out 28-20 against Salford Red Devils but will be encouraged having fought back from being 22-0 down at one stage.

Denis Betts has also followed suit and also named an unchanged 19-man squad heading into this fixture.

Huddersfield Giants: Jermaine McGillvary, Leroy Cudjoe, Aaron Murphy, Jamie Ellis, Ryan Hinchliffe, 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

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

Prediction: Widnes Vikings by 4

Published on February 26 2016 for Rugby AM.


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