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Salford Red Devils vs Widnes Vikings

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The Dacia Magic Weekend kicks-off with Salford Red Devils coming up against a Widnes Vikings side without a win in their last seven matches.

The form the Vikings have shown of late is stark contrast to their opening sequence of results which saw them top the Super League table at one stage.

Widnes head coach Denis Betts insists his squad will find form despite slipping down the table to eighth saying: “We’ve got the personnel and we’ve got the people to spark us back into life.”

Last time out they succumbed to a 24-10 loss at the KC Lightstream Stadium on an emotional afternoon as Hull Kingston Rovers paid tribute to club legend Roger Millward who sadly passed away earlier this month.

The Vikings come up against a Salford Red Devils with plenty of off-the-field goings-on with owner Marwan Koukash giving a damning press conference mid-week in which he talked about the RFL and their recent salary cap breach.

On the pitch his side suffered a 34-20 defeat at Langtree Park against St Helens in the last round with Niall Evalds’ hat-trick in vain for the visitors.

Salford are without the services of in-form Evalds after he received a one match suspension for a Grade B offence on St Helens centre Mark Percival with youngster Jake Bibby coming into the 19-man squad.

Denis Betts has made three changes to his 19-man side bringing Kevin Brown, Stefan Marsh and Chris Bridge back into the fold from injuries replacing Ed Chamberlain, Ted Chapelhow and Jordan Johnstone.

Widnes will be looking for three wins on the trot at the Magic Weekend showpiece winning 30-24 in 2014 and 38-16 last year.

Salford Red Devils: Jake Bibby, Justin Carney, Michael Dobson, Mark Flanagan, George Griffin, Weller Hauraki, Josh Jones, Phil Joseph, Craig Kopczak, Olsi Krasniqi, Ryan Lannon, Rob Lui, Ben Murdoch-Masila, Gareth O’Brien, Junior Sa’u, Logan Tomkins, Adam Walne, Jordan Walne, Daniel Vidot

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

Prediction: Salford Red Devils by 10

Published on May 20 2016 for Rugby AM.

Warrington Wolves vs Castleford Tigers

Adam_Milner_and_Paul_McShane

Castleford Tigers are aiming to make it three wins on the trot when they take on Warrington Wolves at St James’ Park in the second match of Magic Weekend.

The game marks the first time the two teams have come face-to-face at a Magic Weekend event and both teams come into this clash with differing results.

Castleford Tigers arrive on Newcastle United’s ground on the back of consecutive victories beating Salford Red Devils 32-18 before crushing defending champions Leeds Rhinos 52-12 at Headingley Stadium.

Joint-leaders of Super League Warrington Wolves failed to extend their lead at the summit losing 36-28 away against the resurgent Wakefield Wildcats.

The hosts led 24-6 at the break after tries from Matty Ashurst, Tom Johnstone and a brace from Craig Hall with Joe Westerman in reply.

After the interval Ashurst scored again before Wire hit back with four unanswered tries from Daryl Clark, Kurt Gidley, Matty Russell and Westerman but Ben Jones-Bishop sealed the win in the dying embers of the game.

Head of coaching and rugby Tony Smith has made a trio of changes from the side that succumbed to defeat last round with Ryan Bailey and Toby King coming into the side with Morgan Smith, who was a late change last weekend, retaining his place. Dropping out of the Wolves ranks are Rhys Evans, Kevin Penny and Ryan Atkins.

Castleford are boosted by the return of half-back Ben Roberts, who has been sidelined for ten weeks with a foot injury but he is now included in the squad along with Ryan Hampshire – the duo replace Lee Jewitt and Will Maher.

Warrington Wolves: Ryan Bailey, Daryl Clark, Jordan Cox, Ben Currie, Kurt Gidley, Chris Hill, Benjamin Jullien, George King, Toby King, Tom Lineham, Gene Ormsby, Joe Philbin, Stefan Ratchford, Matty Russell, Ashton Sims, Morgan Smith, Joe Westerman, Ben Westwood, Sam Wilde

Castleford Tigers: Matt Cook, Ben Crooks, Luke Dorn, Paddy Flynn, Luke Gale, Ryan Hampshire, Nathan Massey, Mike McMeeken, Paul McShane, Grant Millington, Adam Milner, Junior Moors, Joel Monaghan, Larne Patrick, Ben Roberts, Gadwin Springer, Denny Solomona, Danny Tickle, Jake Webster

Prediction: Castleford Tigers by 10

Published on May 20 2016 for Rugby AM.

Leeds Rhinos vs Wigan Warriors

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The Saturday showpiece fixture pits defending champions Leeds Rhinos against Wigan Warriors in a repeat of the 2015 Grand Final.

Leeds sit bottom of Super League after only picking up three wins from their 14 games so far and will face an uphill battle just to qualify for the top eight. The side suffered a further blow last week losing 52-12 on home soil against Castleford Tigers in a match they were convincingly beaten.

The Rhinos has taken an early lead through Mitch Garbutt but that was soon cancelled out by a first-half Luke Dorn hat-trick on his return to the side along with tries from Denny Solomona and Joel Monaghan.

Things didn’t improve for the home side as they slumped to a new season low shipping in further tries from Solomona, Gadwin Springer, Ben Crooks and Grant Millington with Ash Handley in reply.

Wigan Warriors went down to defeat against Hull FC losing 30-16 at the DW Stadium on a night when Sam Tomkins finally made his long-awaited return to Super League. But the Black and Whites spoilt any fairy-tale homecoming running in five tries in a deserved victory.

Head coach Shaun Wane has called on his troops to respond to their recent defeat saying: “We’ve had our bad day, the players have spoken well and been honest, they know they dipped below our standards.”

The two sides have come together in the last three Magic events with Wigan winning all three meetings dating back to 2013 when it was held at Manchester City’s Etihad Stadium.

In terms of team news Leeds have named Brett Delaney and Beau Falloon who could be set for timely returns to the side.

The club are without Liam Sutcliffe who submitted an early-guilty plea to a Grade B offence during their loss to the Tigers.

Wigan are boosted by the return of Ben Flower, who looks to feature for only the second time since the GoodFriday win over St Helens. The prop replaces Tony Clubb in a like-for-like swap and elsewhere Greg Burke is included in the 19-man squad in place of Anthony Gelling, who was a late withdrawal last week.

Leeds Rhinos: Zak Hardaker, Kallum Watkins, Danny McGuire, Rob Burrow, Keith Galloway, Beau Falloon, Adam Cuthbertson, Jamie Jones-Buchanan, Brett Delaney, Brad Singleton, Mitch Garbutt, Jimmy Keinhorst, Mitch Achurch, Anthony Mullally, Josh Walters, Ash Handley, Ashton Golding, Jordan Lilley, Brett Ferres

Wigan Warriors: John Bateman, Greg Burke, Josh Charnley, Dom Crosby, Ben Flower, Oliver Gildart, Willie Isa, Dom Manfredi, Lee Mossop, Sean O’Loughlin, Sam Powell, Dan Sarginson, Matty Smith, Ryan Sutton, Taulima Tautai, Lewis Tierney, Joel Tomkins, Sam Tomkins, George Williams

Prediction: Wigan Warriors by 14

Published on May 20 2016 for Rugby AM.

Wakefield Wildcats vs Catalans Dragons

Tony_Gigot

Catalans Dragons take on Wakefield Wildcats for the first time at a Magic Weekend event and could climb to the top of the table if results go in their favour.

The French side returned to winning ways in the league by narrowly beating Huddersfield Giants 16-14 on home turf but know they must improve considerably if they are to take the two points off a Wakefield side who overturned Warrington Wolves last time out.

The Wildcats picked up a stunning 36-28 win over the Wolves and climb upto sixth in the process. The hosts led 24-6 at the break after tries from Matty Ashurst, Tom Johnstone and a brace from Craig Hall with Joe Westerman in reply.

After the interval Ashurst scored again before Wire hit back with four unanswered tries but Ben Jones-Bishop sealed the win late on.

The Wildcats felt the wrath of the RFL disciplinary procedure and have seen two players hit with charges. Hooker Scott Moore was found guilty of gouging by the RFL’s disciplinary panel and will miss the next four matches whereas prop Anthony England will serve a one-match suspension for punching.

Chris Chester makes one change from last weekend with Stuart Howarth returning to full fitness to replace the suspended England.

The French side will have to do without the services of half-back Richie Myler who has picked up a groin injury which will see him out of action for the next six weeks. The 25-year-old joins Paul Aiton, Olivier Elima, Krisnan Inu and Morgan Escare in the treatment room.

Dave Taylor and Alrix Da Costa are both fit to feature and Jason Baitieri returns from suspension replacing Myler, Romain Navarrete and Fouad Yaha.

Wakefield Wildcats: Scott Anderson, Chris Annakin, Tinirau Arona, Joe Arundel, Matty Ashurst, Jordan Crowther, Liam Finn, Craig Hall, Stuart Howarth, Tom Johnstone, Ben Jones-Bishop, Max Jowitt, Danny Kirmond, Jacob Miller, Nick Scruton, Mickael Simon, Mikey Sio, Anthony Tupou, Bill Tupou

Catalans Dragons: Tony Gigot, Jodie Broughton, Vincent Duport, Pat Richards, Todd Carney, Louis Anderson, Remi Casty, Glenn Stewart, Justin Horo, Jason Baitieri, Dave Taylor, Julian Bousquet, Eloi Pelissier, Greg Mounis, Thomas Bosc, Antoni Maria, Lucas Albert, Alrix Da Costa, Willie Mason

Prediction: Catalans Dragons by 10

Published on May 20 2016 for Rugby AM.

St Helens vs Huddersfield Giants

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St Helens entertain Huddersfield Giants looking to make it four wins on the trot in Super League and keep their hopes of a top four finish well and truly alive.

The Saints have picked up wins over Leeds Rhinos, Castleford Tigers and Salford Red Devils in the league but did crash out of the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup at the hands of Hull FC losing 47-18 on home soil.

That said the club bounced back at the first time of asking beating the Red Devils 34-20 last round and will look to use that win as a springboard for consecutive victories on Sunday.

Their opponents Huddersfield Giants have been improving week-by-week and headed to the South of France on the back of successive wins in the league and cup over Leeds Rhinos. The club however narrowly lost 16-14 at the Stade Gilbert Brutus so remain at the wrong end of the table.

Kieron Cunningham has been handed a boost ahead of their Magic Weekend clash with the news that Jonny Lomax is fit to play. There was initial concerns over the full-back after he limped out of their victory over Salford on Friday night, especially given his rotten luck of injuries, but those fears have been quashed with the full-back named in the 19-man squad.

Keiron Cunningham has Dominique Peyroux and Mark Percival missing with knocks suffered against the Red Devils which has allowed Jordan Turner, Shannon McDonnell and Calvin Wellington to stake a claim in the side.

Huddersfield new signing Sebastine Ikahihifo looks set to make his debut at Magic Weekend after being named in the 19-man squad. The 25-year-old forward joined the club in a two-and-a-half-year deal from St George Illawarra Dragons and arrived in England four days ago.

Scott Grix is also in line for a return to the squad replacing Tyler Dickinson and Sam Wood in two changes to their 19.

St Helens: Jonny Lomax, Jordan Turner, Adam Swift, Luke Walsh, Alex Walmsley, James Roby, Kyle Amor, Atelea Vea, Jon Wilkin, Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Lama Tasi, Andre Savelio, Theo Fages, Matty Dawson, Jack Owens, Shannon McDonnell, Jack Ashworth, Morgan Knowles, Calvin Wellington

Huddersfield Giants: Scott Grix, Jermaine McGillvary, Leroy Cudjoe, Joe Wardle, Aaron Murphy, Danny Brough, Jamie Ellis, Eorl Crabtree, Ryan Hinchcliffe, Michael Lawrence, Kyle Wood, Sam Rapira, Ukuma Ta’ai, Jake Connor, Josh Johnson, Nathan Mason, Oliver Roberts, Ryan Brierley, Sebastine Ikahihifo

Prediction: St Helens by 12

Published on May 20 2016 for Rugby AM.

Hull FC vs Hull Kingston Rovers

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Terry Campese has handed Hull Kingston Rovers a much needed boost ahead of their clash with Hull FC in the Magic Weekend finale.

The influential half-back has been declared fit after recovering from a hamstring problem which has seen him spend a large period of time on the sidelines.

The Robins’ captain suffered the injury during their loss at Huddersfield Giants some seven weeks ago on his return from a serious knee operation.

Last time out, the Robins paid tribute prior to their match against Widnes Vikings to club legend Roger Millward who sadly passed away earlier this month.

The club did Millward justice recording a 24-10 victory on an emotional afternoon at the KC Lightstream Stadium, as the club bounced back from their 44-26 defeat to Salford Red Devils.

The Robins come up against the in-form team in Super League in their cross-city neighbours Hull FC, who now sit joint-top of the table after beating Wigan Warriors 30-16 at the DW Stadium.

Liam Watts is available for selection against his former club after opting to use his early guilty plea after being handed a Grade A dangerous contact charge following an incident with Dan Sarginson in their victory over tthe Cherry and Whites.

Frank Pritchard returns to the Black and White side following the completion of his one-game suspension which he picked up on international duty. Lee Radford also has Carlos Tuimavave back in contention after a six-week layoff with a groin injury – with Dean Hadley and Steve Michaels dropping out of the squad.

The Black and Whites recorded a 46-20 victory last time at Magic Weekend over the Robins and already have the bragging rights in the city coming from 20 points down with 18 minutes remaining to win 22-20 earlier this season.

For Hull KR they bring back the aforementioned Campese along with Chris Clarkson and Iain Thornley in three changes with John Boudebza, Robbie Mulhern and Kieran Moran making way.

Hull FC: Josh Bowden, Gareth Ellis, Mahe Fonua, Chris Green, Danny Houghton, Sika Manu, Mark Minichiello, Curtis Naughton, Frank Pritchard, Leon Pryce, Jamie Shaul, Marc Sneyd, Fetuli Talanoa, Scott Taylor, Jordan Thompson, Carlos Tuimavave, Danny Washbrook, Liam Watts, Kirk Yeaman

Hull Kingston Rovers: Mitch Allgood, Maurice Blair, Terry Campese, Chris Clarkson, Ben Cockayne, James Donaldson, James Green, James Greenwood, Graeme Horne, Shaun Lunt, Matty Marsh, Thomas Minns, Ken Sio, Iain Thornley, Dane Tilse, Adam Walker, Joe Wardill

Prediction: Hull FC by 14

Published on May 20 2016 for Rugby AM.

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