Wigan Warriors vs Huddersfield Giants


Round twelve of Super League opens with Huddersfield Giants travelling to the DW Stadium to take on Wigan Warriors hoping to back up their victory last round.

The Giants picked up only their second two points of the campaign beating league leaders Warrington Wolves 11-0 in a surprising scoreline. The win still sees the Giants rooted to the foot of the table but crucially they come within a point of Hull Kingston Rovers whilst also ended their five game losing sequence.

Aaron Murphy scored four minutes before half-time but Danny Brough was unable to add the extras from the conversion. However the mercurial half-back made it 6-0 with a 40m penalty five minutes into the second-half.

With the game still in the balance Brough slotted over a drop-goal and the points were secured when Leroy Cudjoe scored ten minutes from time as Huddersfield claimed an unlikely victory.

Paul Anderson makes just one change to his squad with Gene Ormsby, who was ineligible to face his parent club last week, come back in at the expense of Sam Wood.

Wigan head coach Shaun Wane said he would use his side’s 62-0 thrashing by Wakefield Wildcats as motivation for the rest of the season and his team bounced back with a 26-12 triumph over Castleford Tigers.

John Bateman scored a brace of tries along with solo efforts from Lewis Tierney and Nick Gregson were enough as Wigan recorded their eighth win.

The victory moved Wigan joint-top with Warrington Wolves and Catalans Dragons but third based on points difference.

The Cherry and Whites welcome back Anthony Gelling, who Wane says is “the best centre in the competition bar none” with Joe Bretherton losing his spot in the 19-man squad.

Wigan Warriors: John Bateman, Greg Burke, Josh Charnley, Tony Clubb, Dom Crosby, Ben Flower, Oliver Gildart, Anthony Gelling, Nick Gregson, Jack Higginson, Willie Isa, Lee Mossop, Sam Powell, Dan Sarginson, Matty Smith, Ryan Sutton, Taulima Tautai, Lewis Tierney, Joel Tomkins.

Huddersfield Giants: Jermaine McGillvary, Leroy Cudjoe, Joe Wardle, Aaron Murphy, Danny Brough, Ryan Hinchcliffe, Craig Huby, Michael Lawrence, Kyle Wood, Sam Rapira, Ukuma Ta’ai, Jake Connor, Josh Johnson, Kruise Leeming, Nathan Mason, Oliver Roberts, Tyler Dickinson, Ryan Brierley, Gene Ormsby.

Prediction: Wigan Warriors by 10

Published on April 21 2016 for Rugby AM.

St Helens vs Leeds Rhinos


Leeds Rhinos are hoping their victory over in-form Hull FC in round eleven will be the catalyst for their charge up the table and next up is a trip to Langtree Park to lock horns with St Helens.

Hosting the Black and Whites at Headingley in shocking conditions, Leeds produced a gutsy performance to emerge 20-18 winners thanks to late tries from Jamie Jones-Buchanan and Jordan Lilley.

The two points, moved the club ahead of Hull Kingston Rovers in the league ladder but, despite ending their four game losing sequence, the club still remain four points off the top eight.

The Rhinos come up against a St Helens team with mixed form of late defeats against Hull FC and Catalans Dragons have been sandwich in-between wins over Widnes Vikings and Warrington Wolves.

In round eleven Keiron Cunningham hosted the Dragons and found themselves 10-0 down after Jodie Broughton bagged an early brace. Saints rallied however and Theo Fages and Luke Walsh went in either side of Broughton completing his hat-trick.

Both Richie Myler and Pat Richards scored extending the French side’s lead with Broughton scoring his fourth of the night 15 minutes from time securing the two points.

Cunningham has welcomed back a number of players from injury with Jonny Lomax, Atelea Vea, Mark Percival and Joe Greenwood all coming into the 19-man squad.

Leeds head coach Brian McDermott has made just the one change which sees Joel Moon return in place of youngster Cameron Smith, however the centre will have to pass a fitness test in order to make his return.

St Helens: Jonny Lomax, Mark Percival, Luke Walsh, Alex Walmsley, James Roby, Kyle Amor, Atelea Vea, Jon Wilkin, Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Lama Tasi, Greg Richards, Andre Savelio, Theo Fages, Joe Greenwood, Matty Dawson, Jack Owens, Shannon McDonnell, Morgan Knowles, Calvin Wellington

Leeds Rhinos: Zak Hardaker, Kallum Watkins, Joel Moon, Rob Burrow, Keith Galloway, Beau Falloon, Jamie Jones-Buchanan, Carl Ablett, Liam Sutcliffe, Brett Delaney, Brad Singleton, Mitch Garbutt, Jimmy Keinhorst, Mitch Achurch, Anthony Mullally, Ash Handley, Ashton Golding, Jordan Balwinson, Jordan Lilley

Prediction: Leeds Rhinos by 8

Published on April 22 2016 for Rugby AM.

Widnes Vikings vs Warrington Wolves


Widnes Vikings return to Super League action after their involvement in the Challenge Cup for a derby clash with Warrington Wolves.

Progression to the sixth round of the Challenge Cup was ensured by the Vikings with a comprehensive 62-6 victory over League One Rochdale Hornets. Chris Bridge’s impressive haul of 26 points accompanied by a hat-trick from Kevin Brown saw the Super League progress with ease at Spotlands.

Warrington were involved in league action last weekend and suffered a shock 11-0 defeat against Huddersfield Giants at the John Smith’s Stadium. Conditions played apart so much so that it took until the 35th minute for the deadlock to be broken when Aaron Murphy scored by Danny Brough’s touchline conversion was wide of the mark.

Five minutes into the second-half and Brough opted to take the two points slotting over a penalty and he slotted over a drop-goal just after the hour mark. Leroy Cudjoe ensured the win late on when he crossed on 70 minutes as Huddersfield recorded an 11-0 win.

In terms of team news Widnes have serious concerns surrounding Alex Gerrard with coach Denis Betts fearing his season may be over with major knee surgery a distinct possibility.

Betts makes six changes from the side that took to the field in the cup with Rhys Hanbury, Aaron Heremaia, Chris Houston, Eamon O’Carroll, Charly Runciman and Setaimata Sa all returning to the fold.

Tony Smith has seen his side lose some of their attacking flair over the past weeks in the absence of Chris Sandow and news came out this week that the half-back will be out of action for a further two months but will not require surgery on his hamstring.

Jordan Cox returns to the Wolves 19-man unit in place of Joe Philbin in the only change from their defeat last time out.

Widnes Vikings: Chris Bridge, Kevin Brown, Hep Cahill, Ed Chamberlain, Chris Dean, Gil Dudson, 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

Warrington Wolves: Ryan Atkins, Daryl Clark, Jordan Cox, Ben Currie, Rhys Evans, Kurt Gidley, Chris Hill, Jack Hughes, Jack Johnson, Benjamin Jullien, George King, Tom Lineham, Kevin Penny, Stefan Ratchford, Matty Russell, Ashton Sims, Joe Westerman, Ben Westwood, Sam Wilde

Prediction: Widnes Vikings by 4

Published on April 22 2016 for Rugby AM.

Catalans Dragons vs Salford Red Devils


Super League’s in-form team Catalans Dragons are aiming to make it seven consecutive wins when Salford Red Devils fly over to the Stade Gilbert Brutus.

The Dragons are proving they are the real deal this season having addressed their poor away form last year and sit joint second in the league ladder – whilst also having the best attack in the division scoring 314 points in their 11 fixtures.

Two points over Huddersfield Giants, Salford, Castleford Tigers, Widnes Vikings, Hull Kingston Rovers and St Helens last time out have seen Laurent Frayssinous’ side rise up the leader board and emerged as real contenders.

Their 19-man squad announcement sees the Dragons make only one change with Morgan Escare replace Olivier Elima from the side that beat Saints 30-12 at Langtree Park.

Hoping to dent the French exuberance are Salford Red Devils who return to league duty having successfully progressed to the next round of the Challenge Cup after a convincing 50-14 victory over Hunslet Hawks. Josh Griffin scored a hat-trick of tries as Salford booked a place in the sixth round despite resting a number of first-team players against their part-time counterparts.

The win means Salford have picked up back-to-back wins in all competitions this season after their 14-10 success over Leeds Rhinos last round in Super League but face the unenviable task of heading to France to take on the resurgent Dragons.

That said they do have their strike players returning for this game with Justin Carney, Mark Flanagan, Logan Tomkins, Craig Kopczak, George Griffin and Ben Murdoch-Masila all returning to the fold having been rested.

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, Greg Mounis, Thomas Bosc, Morgan Escare, Alrix Da Costa, Willie Mason.

Salford Red Devils: Justin Carney, Michael Dobson, Niall Evalds, Mark Fanagan, George Griffin, Josh Griffin, Weller Hauraki, Josh Jones, Craig Kopczak, Olsi Krasniqi, Ryan Lannon, Rob Lui, Ben Murdoch-Masila, Gareth O’Brien, Junior Sa’u, Logan Tomkins, Adam Walne, Jordan Walne, Josh Wood.

Prediction: Catalans Dragons by 14

Published on April 23 2016 for Rugby AM.

Castleford Tigers vs Hull Kingston Rovers


Hull Kingston Rovers will be gunning for a response when they travel to the Mend-a-Hose Jungle to take on Castleford Tigers after being dumped out of the Challenge Cup last weekend.

Last season’s finalists crashed out of the cup against part-time Oldham Roughyeds losing 36-22 and what is more concerning is, by all accounts, their opponents fully deserved their victory with Rovers greeted by a chorus of boos at full-time.

The Robins will want to right not only the wrongs of last week but their previous outing in Super League also which saw them lose 40-0 against Catalans also on home soil.

They welcome back Albert Kelly, Mitch Allgood, Graeme Horne and Thomas Minns from injury with Joe Cator, James Greenwood, Kieran Dixon and Kieran Moran making way in the 19.

Castleford Tigers slipped down to 7th after their 26-12 loss at the DW Stadium to Wigan Warriors, a game which the Tigers has led twice in but ultimately fell short conceding a John Bateman brace along with solo scores from Lewis Tierney and Nick Gregson.

The loss put an end to the back-to-back wins they managed over Huddersfield Giants and Widnes Vikings and the Tigers will have targeted this fixture as a very winnable game but must be vary of a Robin backlash.

Daryl Powell bolstered his forward ranks with the loan signing of Larne Patrick from Huddersfield Giants and the 27-year-old has gone straight into the 19-man squad ahead of Sunday’s test. Junior Moors and Gadwin Springer complete the trio of changes with Oliver Holmes, Will Maher and Tom Holmes missing out.

Concerns also surround Lee Jewitt, Denny Solomona and Jake Webster with the latter having an injection on Wednesday.

Castleford Tigers: Ryan Boyle, Matt Cook, Luke Gale, Ryan Hampshire, Jy Hitchcox, Lee Jewitt, Andy Lynch, Nathan Massey, Mike McMeeken, Paul McShane, Grant Millington, Adam Milner, Greg Minikin, Junior Moors, Joel Monaghan, Larne Patrick, Gadwin Springer, Denny Solomona, Jake Webster

Hull Kingston Rovers: Mitch Allgood, Maurice Blair, John Boudebza, Chris Clarkson, Ben Cockayne, James Donaldson, James Green, Graeme Horne, Albert Kelly, George Lawler, Shaun Lunt, Matty Marsh, Thomas Minns, Robbie Mulhern, Ken Sio, Iain Thornley, Dane Tilse, Adam Walker, Joe Wardill

Prediction: Castleford Tigers by 10

Published on April 24 2016 for Rugby AM.

Wakefield Wildcats vs Hull FC


Wakefield Wildcats welcome Hull FC hoping to make it six straight wins under Chris Chester when the two sides go head-to-head at Belle Vue today.

The Wildcats have seen an immediate turn of fortunes since the appointment of the former Hull KR head coach and, despite losing his first game in charge, the club have gone from strength to strength. So much so that if the club were to manage a victory over the Black and Whites it would see them already achieving double the amount of victories they had during the regular campaign last season.

Last weekend the Wildcats ensured their progression in the Challenge Cup with a 44-10 win over Sheffield Eagles despite opting to rotate their squad.

Chester makes five changes from that side that reached the sixth round with Danny Kirmond, Reece Lyne, Jonny Molloy, Scott Moore and Nick Scruton returning to the 19-man squad. Dropping out of the side are Scott Anderson, Stuart Howarth, Jason Walton, Andy Yates and Joe Arundel with the latter out for a month with a knee injury.

Their opponents Hull FC saw their five game winning run come to a half last weekend when they were edged out 20-18 by Leeds Rhinos at Headingley. Despite that the Airlie Birds, who sit in fourth, have drafted in two of their experienced players for this fixture.

Influential forwards Gareth Ellis and Mark Minichiello return to the 19-man squad in place of Josh Bowden and Steve Michaels in two changes made by Lee Radford. Leon Pryce could also make the starting line-up having had a spell on the sidelines with a knee injury.

Wakefield Wildcats: Chris Annakin, Tinirau Arona, Matty Ashurst, Anthony England, Liam Finn, Ashley Gibson, Craig Hall, Tom Johnstone, Ben Jones-Bishop, Max Jowitt, Danny Kirmond, Reece Lyne, Jacob Miller, Jonny Molloy, Scott Moore, Nick Scruton, Mickael Simon, Mikey Sio, Anthony Tupou

Hull FC: Gareth Ellis, Mahe Fonua, Chris Green, Dean Hadley, Danny Houghton, Sika Manu, Mark Minichiello, Curtis Naughton, Feka Paleaaesina, Frank Pritchard, Leon Pryce, Jamie Shaul, Fetuli Talanoa, Scott Taylor, Jordan Thompson, Danny Washbrook, Liam Watts, Kirk Yeaman

Prediction: Hull FC by 8

Published on April 24 2016 for Rugby AM.

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