Salford Red Devils vs Warrington Wolves
Warrington Wolves travel to the AJ Bell Stadium to take on Salford Red Devils eager to extend their winning start to Super League.
The Wolves have won all three of their league fixtures, recording wins over Leeds Rhinos, Hull Kingston Rovers and more recently the 34-16 triumph at home to Wakefield Wildcats – seeing them rise to second in the table.
Their performances, both collectively and individually, haven’t gone unnoticed with Chris Sandow receiving a nomination for the Player of the Month award. The influential half-back endured a mixed start since arriving from Parramatta Eels at the tail end of last season but now, with a full pre-season behind him, Sandow is reaping the rewards.
Salford meanwhile will have been encouraged with the way their season is progressing despite their opening round defeat against Hull FC. The club went onto thrash St Helens 44-10 before edging Widnes Vikings 28-20 and last weekend only a late Dom Manfredi try saw Wigan narrowly win 20-16.
The Red Devils themselves have a Player of the Month candidate in their ranks with half-back Rob Lui impressing since his arrival at the club. Two tries to his name in their win over St Helens was his standout performances and the battle between Sandow and Lui is one to keep an eye on this round.
This will be a big test for both sides with Salford, who lost both fixtures last season against Wire, will be out to prove a point whilst Warrington will be keen to show they are the real deal this year.
Tony Smith’s side will be without two key men in that of Kurt Gidley (concussion) and Daryl Clark (calf) but have been boosted with the inclusions of Stefan Ratchford and Mitchell Dodds, with the latter in line for a Super League debut.
Salford head coach Ian Watson has made just one change for this home clash with Adam Walne returning from injury replacing Olsi Krasniqi.
Salford Red Devils: Justin Carney, Michael Dobson, Niall Evalds, Mark Flanagan, George Griffin, Josh Griffin, Greg Johnson, Josh Jones, Craig Kopzcak, Ryan Lannon, Tommy Lee, Rob Lui, Ben Murdoch-Masila, Gareth O’Brien, Matt Sarsfield, Junior Sa’u, Logan Tomkins, Adam Walne, Jordan Walne
Warrington Wolves: Ryan Atkins, Jordan Cox, Ben Currie, Mitchell Dodds, Brad Dwyer, Rhys Evans, Kurt Gidley, Chris Hill, Jack Hughes, Benjamin Jullien, George King, Tom Lineham, Kevin Penny, Joe Philbin, Stefan Ratchford, Matty Russell, Chris Sandow, Ashton Simms, Joe Westerman, Gary Wheeler
Prediction: Warrington Wolves by 14
Published on March 2 2016 for Rugby AM.
St Helens vs Castleford Tigers
St Helens host an in-form Castleford Tigers at Langtree Park tonight hoping for back-to-back victories for the first time this season.
Both sides come into this crunch clash on the back of wins with St Helens putting their World Club Series defeat behind them to record a 31-22 win over Hull Kingston Rovers at the KC Lightstream Stadium.
Castleford pulled off a 31-24 when they travelled to East Yorkshire to take on Hull FC at the KC Stadium which backed up their round two win over Wakefield.
Last season, Adam Swift bagged a hat-trick and ended Castleford’s top-four hopes whilst cementing Saints’ own with after a pulsating 42-28 away win.
St Helens head coach Keiron Cunningham has made three changes to his squad with Theo Fages, Greg Richards and Morgan Knowles all coming into the 19. The trio replace Andre Savelio, Jack Owens and Travis Burns, who serves a one-match ban for punching in their win over Hull KR.
Daryl Powell has drafted in Gadwin Springer with the French prop set to make his first appearance of the season replacing the injured Oliver Holmes.
Jy Hitchcox remains in the 19 after being a late replacement for Joel Monaghan who pulled up in their warm-up in their win over Hull FC.
St Helens: Tommy Makinson, Jordan Turner, Adam Swift, Luke Walsh, Alex Walmsley, James Roby, Kyle Amor, Atelea Vea, Jon Wilkin, Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Lama Tasi, Greg Richards, Luke Thompson, Dominique Peyroux, Theo Fages, Joe Greenwood, Matty Dawson, Shannon McDonnell, Morgan Knowles
Castleford Tigers: Matt Cook, Ben Crooks, Luke Dorn, Luke Gale, Ryan Hampshire, Jy Hitchcox, Lee Jewitt, Andy Lynch, Nathan Massey, Mike McMeeken, Paul McShane, Will Maher, Grant Millington, Adam Milner, Junior Moors, Joel Monaghan, Ben Roberts, Denny Solomona, Gadwin Springer, Jake Webster
Prediction: Castleford Tigers by 12
Published on March 4 2016 for Rugby AM.
Leeds Rhinos vs Huddersfield Giants
Super League’s only pointless clubs Leeds Rhinos and Huddersfield Giants come face-to-face on Friday night in front of the Sky cameras at Headingley Stadium.
You’d have got long odds at bookmakers on the reigning champions and the Giants recording three straight defeats in the league at the start of the competition but that will change this round.
Both sides have had similar injury troubles to key men which have crippled their starts to the competition seeing them now play catch-up with their rivals.
The Rhinos showed glimpses of a return form in their 32-28 defeat against Catalans Dragons in torrential conditions at the Stade Gilbert Brutus. Having seven injured players made the matter of beating the French side on home soil a tall order and on another day they would have won this game but uncharacteristic errors let them down.
Even at full strength the fixture list wasn’t kind to Huddersfield pitting them against St Helens, Wigan Warriors and Widnes Vikings in the first three rounds. Add into the mix an array of players in the treatment room and the task facing the club was unenviable.
Now Paul Anderson faces the prospect of heading into this bottom two fixture without a recognised half-back with the news that Jamie Ellis dislocated his collarbone in their 36-18 defeat to Widnes – seeing him sidelined for up to ten weeks.
However Danny Brough is in line for a return to first-team action should he pass a late fitness test easing their half-back troubles having been named in Anderson’s squad along with Tyler Dickinson.
The Rhinos could also welcome back one of their injured players with forward Jamie Jones-Buchanan included in the 19-strong squad. Having not featured since their semi-final win over St Helens last year in the Challenge Cup the inclusion of an experienced forward will no doubt be a boost.
The match will be the first time Brett Ferres has faced his former club after his acrimonious departure due to off-field problems so expect fireworks in the forwards.
Leeds Rhinos: Zak Hardaker, Kallum Watkins, Joel Moon, Ryan Hall, Rob Burrow, Keith Galloway, Adam Cuthbertson, Jamie Jones-Buchanan, Liam Sutcliffe, Brett Delaney, Brad Singleton. Jimmy Keinhorst, Mitch Achurch, Anthony Mullally, Josh Walters, Ash Handley, Jordan Baldwinson, Jordan Lilley, Brett Ferres
Huddersfield Giants: Jermaine McGillvary, Leroy Cudjoe, Aaron Murphy, Danny Brough, Ryan Hinchliffe, Michael Lawrence, Larne Patrick, Daniel Smith, Sam Rapira, Ukuma Ta’ai, Jake Connor, Josh Johnson, Kruise Leeming, Nathan Mason, Oliver Roberts, Tyler Dickinson, Mikey Wood, Jamie Foster, Sam Wood
Prediction: Leeds Rhinos by 20
Published on March 4 2016 for Rugby AM.
Hull FC vs Wigan Warriors
Hull FC face their toughest test of the season when they host a Wigan Warriors side gunning for the top spot.
The Warriors travel to the KC Stadium having won all of their Super League games this season recording wins over Catalans Dragons, Huddersfield Giants and more recently the narrow 20-16 win over Salford Red Devils.
The Black and Whites suffered their first loss of the campaign against Castleford Tigers losing 31-24 on home soil. Two tries from full-back Jamie Shaul weren’t enough for Lee Radford’s men as Denny Solomona continued his good early season form bagging a hat-trick.
Wigan got the better of Hull three times last season winning their home fixture 13-12 with Matty Smith kicking a late drop-goal before cruising to a 48-12 win at the KC Stadium. The Cherry and Whites then claimed the spoils in the Super 8s winning 30-24 at the DW Stadium.
Lee Radford has made just the solitary change to his squad with Jordan Abdull being replaced by 21-year-old Curtis Naughton who has impressed for the club’s Under-23s side.
Shaun Wane has also followed suit and made just the one change with Josh Charnley now fit to play following a facial injury which has seen him miss the last two games.
Hull FC: Josh Bowden, Gareth Ellis, Chris Green, Danny Houghton, Jack Logan, Sika Manu, Steve Michaels, Mark Minichiello, Curtis Naughton, Frank Pritchard, Leon Pryce, Jamie Shaul, Marc Sneyd, Fetuli Talanoa, Scott Taylor, Jordan Thompson, Carlos Tuimavave, Danny Washbrook, Liam Watts
Wigan Warriors: John Bateman, Gregg Burke, Josh Charnley, 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
Prediction: Wigan Warriors by 14
Published on March 4 2016 for Rugby AM.
Widnes Vikings vs Hull Kingston Rovers
Hull Kingston Rovers travel to the Select Security Stadium to take on high-flying Widnes Vikings still searching for their first win.
The Robins have endured a torrid start to the season picking up only a point in round one in the 16-16 draw with Castleford Tigers. Since then the club have had to endure a number of injuries and losses against Warrington Wolves, Wakefield Wildcats and St Helens respectively.
Those injury troubles don’t look to be getting any easier for temporary head coach Willie Poaching who is without Albert Kelly and Graeme Horne through injury. James Green is also serving a one-match ban for punching Travis Burns in their last game.
Their threadbare squad is being tested to the max so much so that Poaching has called up two academy players in Kieran Moran and Joe Wardill to his 19-man squad.
Their opponents Widnes have risen to the top of the table with impressive wins over Huddersfield Giants, Leeds Rhinos and Wakefield Wildcats. Whilst the club have a relatively clean bill of health, the likes of Corey Thompson and Stefan Marsh have attributed to their lofty position.
The performances of Thompson have impressed having joined from Canterbury Bulls and the top try scorer in the competition has been nominated for the Player of the Month award.
Denis Betts has made two changes to his squad with Chris Bridge and Setaimata Sa replaced by Tom Gilmore and Matt Whitley.
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, Tom Gilmore, Corey Thompson, Lloyd White, Matt Whitley
Hull Kingston Rovers: Mitch Allgood, Maurice Blair, Chris Clarkson, Ben Cockayne, Kieran Dixon, James Greenwood, Stephen Holker, George Lawler, Matty Marsh, Thomas Minns, Kieran Moran, Robbie Mulhern, Liam Salter, Ryan Shaw, Ken Sio, Iain Thornley, Dane Tilse, Adam Walker, Joe Wardill
Prediction: Widnes Vikings by 12
Published on March 4 2016 for Rugby AM.
Wakefield Wildcats vs Catalans Dragons
Catalans Dragons are hoping for consecutive wins when they travel to Belle Vue to take on Wakefield Wildcats on Sunday.
The Dragons bounced back from their 38-10 loss at the Stade Gilbert Stadium against Hull FC with a 32-28 win over the reigning Super League champions Leeds Rhinos. Two tries from new signing Dave Taylor, who joined the club from the Gold Coast Titans, along with efforts from Richie Myler, Krisnan Inu and Tony Gigot withstood a late Rhinos revival.
Head coach Laurent Frayssinous has made one change to the side that took on the Rhinos welcoming back club captain Remi Casty after eight months on the sidelines to add to an already big pack. The forward suffered a season-ending injury in July last year but is now available for selection and replaces Olivier Elima in the 19-man squad.
Wakefield couldn’t back up their first win of the season over Hull KR as they lost 34-16 against a stern Warrington Wolves side.
Wildcats head coach Brian Smith has made two changes to the side that lost to Warrington last round with Scott Anderson making a return in place of Anthony Walker. Ben Jones-Bishop, who pulled up in the warm-up last week, is now fit to retake his place in the side.
The French side did the double over the club last year with the game at Wakefield a resounding 40-4 win for Frayssinous’ men – a game which saw Damien Cardace run in a second-half hat-trick.
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
Catalans Dragons: Tony Gigot, Jodie Broughton, Krisnan Inu, Vincent Duport, Pat Richards, Todd Carney, Richie Myler, Louis Anderson, Remi Casty, Glenn Stewart, Justin Horo, Jason Baitieri, Dave Taylor, Julian Bousquet, Eloi Pelissier, Greg Mounis, Thomas Bosc, Alrix Da Costa, Willie Mason
Prediction: Catalans Dragons by 10
Published on March 5 2016 for Rugby AM.