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Wakefield Wildcats vs Hull Kingston Rovers

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Round 17 kicks-off with Hull Kingston Rovers travelling to Belle Vue to take on Wakefield Wildcats with Rovers needing a win to keep alive their top eight hopes.

The Robins, who sit 10-place in the table, are five points off Widnes Vikings in eighth and come into this fixture on the back of two defeats.

The Red and Whites couldn’t address their defeat to Hull FC at Magic Weekend and succumbed to a 34-16 loss against Catalans Dragons at the Stade Gilbert Brutus.

Hull KR went into half-time 28-6 down and despite a spirited second-half fightback by the team from East Yorkshire the damage was done in the first forty.

With games coming up against four of the current top eight this will have been pinpointed as a must-win by James Webster but Wakefield will have other ideas as they look to bounce back from their first defeat in four games in all competitions.

Last time out Chris Chester saw his side convincingly beaten 38-8 by Salford Red Devils but the club remain sixth in the table.

Niall Evalds, Ryan Lannon (2), Mark Flanagan, Robert Lui, George Griffin, Junior Sau all touched down as Salford continue to overturn their points deduction.

Chester will come up against his former employers and has made two changes to his side seeing Jon Molloy and Stuart Howarth return in place of Danny Kirmond, who misses out through suspension and Ben Jones-Bishop.

Terry Campese is back in the fold after the club took the decision not to risk their captain in their fixture against the Dragons citing the need to keep him fully fit for the rest of the season.

Mitch Allgood is also back after completing a one-match suspension for making deliberate contact with an official against the Black and Whites in Newcastle. The experienced duo replace youngsters Joe Cator and Will Jubb in the 19-man squad.

Wakefield Wildcats: Scott Anderson, Chris Annakin, Tinirau Arona, Joe Arundel, Matty Ashurst, Anthony England, Liam Finn, Craig Hall, Stuart Howarth, Tom Johnstone, Mac Jowitt, Reece Lyne, Jacob Miller, Jon Molloy, Nick Scruton, Mickael Simon, Mikey Sio, Anthony Tupou, Bill Tupou

Hull Kingston Rovers: Mitch Allgood, Maurice Blair, John Boudebza, Terry Campese, Chris Clarkson, James Donaldson, James Green, James Greenwood, Albert Kelly, George Lawler, Kevin Larroyer, Shaun Lunt, Matty Marsh, Robbie Mulhern, Ken Sio, Iain Thornley, Dane Tilse, Adam Walker, Joe Wardill

Prediction: Hull Kingston Rovers by 6

Published on June 2 2016 for Rugby AM.

St Helens vs Warrington Wolves

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Warrington Wolves head to Langtree Park on Friday night to take on St Helens hoping to close the gap on league leaders Hull FC.

The Wolves bounced back from their disappointing Magic Weekend defeat against Castleford Tigers by thumping Leeds Rhinos 52-18 at the Halliwell Jones Stadium.

The Rhinos were in the contest up until half-time finding themselves only 18-12 down but an all too familiar second-half collapse cost the reigning Super League champions as the Wolves ran riot with Kurt Gidley helping himself to a 20 point haul.

Wire ended their two game losing run which coincided with the return of half-back Chris Sandow who won back-to-back Player of the Month awards earlier in the campaign.

Now Warrington must back up their last round result against a St Helens side low on confidence on the back of two defeats to both Huddersfield Giants and Hull FC.

Saints produced a performance of real effort against the in-form Airlie Birds but a hefty penalty count in favour of the home side didn’t help proceedings as Hull FC claimed a 32-24 victory.

Keiron Cunningham makes just the solitary change to his 19-man side with Luke Thompson coming into the fray in place of the injured Luke Walsh – who was forced off just two minutes into last week’s defeat.

31-year-old Travis Burns has joined Leigh Centurions on loan until the end of the season in a bid for more first-team action having been playing the reserves competition. The Championship club have also strengthened from Wire signing Ben Evans on loan for a month to help ease their forward crisis.

Tony Smith sees Ben Westwood miss out with a calf strain and Ashton Sims is also absent after being handed a one-match ban for punching last time out. Jordan Cox and Joe Philbin come into the side in two changes for Warrington.

St Helens: Jonny Lomax, Jordan Turner, Adam Swift, Alex Walmsley, James Roby, Kyle Amor, Atelea Vea, Jon Wilkin, Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Lama Tasi, Greg Richards, Luke Thompson, Theo Fages, Joe Greenwood, Matty Dawson, Jack Owens, Jack Ashworth, Morgan Knowles, Calvin Wellington.

Warrington Wolves: Ryan Atkins, Ryan Bailey, Daryl Clark, Jordan Cox, Ben Currie, Brad Dwyer, Rhys Evans, Kurt Gidley, Chris Hill, Benjamin Jullien, George King, Toby King, Tom Lineham, Gene Ormsby, Joe Philbin, Stefam Ratchford, Chris Sandow, Joe Westerman, Sam Wilde.

Prediction: Warrington Wolves by 10

Published on June 3 2016 for Rugby AM.

Huddersfield Giants vs Castleford Tigers

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Both Huddersfield Giants and Castleford Tigers come into this clash after being beaten the previous round eager to make amends.

The Giants failed to back up their 48-20 win over St Helens and fell short against Widnes Vikings narrowly losing 24-20.

Huddersfield must have thought they were on the way to back-to-back victories when they found themselves 16-0 ahead after tries from Nathan Mason, Danny Brough and Joe Wardle with Brough kicking two conversions. Corey Thompson touched down two minutes from the break to give Widnes hope but his side still trailed 16-4.

Widnes, who themselves were on a torrid run of form, rallied in the second-half to fight back to lead 24-16 thanks to a brace from Joe Mellor along with solo efforts from Stefan Marsh and Thompson. Jermaine McGillvary notched his 14th try of the campaign to edge the Giants back into the contest but the Vikings held on for the two points.

Castleford saw their three game winning run come to an end when they took on Wigan Warriors at the Mend-A-Hose Jungle.

The Warriors shaded a 33-26 thriller which could have gone either way if not for a plethora of penalties and mistakes.

Paul Anderson has opted to name an unchanged team that were beaten last time in the hope they can make rectify the wrongs of last week.

Cas welcome back Nathan Massey who has sufficiently recovered from a concussion he suffered at Magic Weekend. On-loan Giants forward Larne Patrick is ineligible to play against his parent club so drops out of the 19-man squad.

If Huddersfield are to get the win they will have to keep two of the form players in the competition at bay in Luke Gale and Junior Moors, both of which have been nominated for the Player of the Month award.

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

Castleford Tigers: Matt Cook, Ben Crooks, Luke Dorn, Paddy Flynn, Luke Gale, Ryan Hampshire, Lee Jewitt, Will Maher, Nathan Massey, Mick McMeeken, Paul McShane, Grant Millington, Adam Milner, Junior Moors, Joel Monaghan, Gadwin Springer, Denny Solomona, Danny Tickle, Jake Webster.

Prediction: Castleford Tigers by 9

Published on June 3 2016 for Rugby AM.

Leeds Rhinos vs Catalans Dragons

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Leeds Rhinos’ rotten luck shows no signs of letting up as the club lose two more key players ahead of their home match with Catalans Dragons.

Head coach Brian McDermott has confirmed that, despite being named in the 19-man squad, both Rob Burrow and Adam Cuthbertson will miss their clash with the French side.

Matters weren’t helped when Brad Singleton was handed a one-match suspension by the RFL paving the way for Anthony Mullally, Beau Falloon and Joel Moon to come back into contention.

The Rhinos were thumped 52-18 away at Warrington Wolves last weekend and know they need to start putting pride back into the shirt.

The club were in the contest at half-time only trailing 18-12 but an all too familiar second-half collapse cost the reigning Super League champions as the Wolves ran riot with Kurt Gidley helping himself to a 20 point haul.

The Dragons returned to winning ways last round beating Hull Kingston Rovers 34-16 at the Stade Gilbert Brutus stadium.

Jodie Broughton, Todd Carney and Lucas Albert all touched down in the first-half as the home side opened up a 16-0 advantage. Former Dragon Kevin Larroyer, who incidentally was making his first appearance of the season, reduced the arrears but Louis Anderson and Tony Gigot further their lead for a 28-6 half-time score.

Joe Wardill traded tries with Justin Horo before Ken Sio went over in the final minutes but it was too little too late as the Robins went down to a third defeat in four.

The win was the perfect tonic for their Magic Weekend defeat to Wakefield Wildcats and moved the club to within two points of the top.

Laurent Frayssinous has made three changes bring back Willie Mason, Morgan Escare and Thibaud Margalet in place of the injured trio of Louis Anderson, Dave Taylor and Greg Mounis

Leeds Rhinos: Kallum Watkins, Joel Moon, Danny McGuire, Rob Burrow, Keith Galloway, Beau Falloon, Adam Cuthbertson, Jamie Jones-Buchanan, Liam Sutcliffe, Brett Delaney, Mitch Garbutt, Jimmy Keinhorst, Mitch Achurch, Anthony Mullally, Josh Walters, Ash Handley, Jordan Lilley, Brett Ferres, Luke Briscoe.

Catalans Dragons: Tony Gigot, Jodie Broughton, Vincent Duport, Pat Richards, Todd Carney, Remi Casty, Glenn Stewart, Justin Horo, Jason Baitieri, Julian Bousquet, Eloi Pelissier, Thomas Bosc, Fouad Yaha, Morgan Escare, Antoni Maria, Thibaud Margalet, Lucas Albert, Willie Mason, Romain Navarrete.

Prediction: Catalans Dragons by 12

Published on June 3 2016 for Rugby AM.

Hull FC vs Widnes Vikings

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Hull FC will be looking to extend their lead at the top of Super League when they host Widnes Vikings at the KCOM stadium on Friday night.

The Black and Whites have risen to the summit after some impressive performances over the past few months. One defeat in their last twelve fixtures in league and cup action is form which must see them as genuine contenders for the Super League title with bookies already slashing the odds on that proposition.

Currently on a six game winning run, the club are riding high on confidence but know they mustn’t get complacent against a team which they will have pinpointed two points from at the beginning of the season.

Hull FC claimed a league double over St Helens in round sixteen beating the men from Langtree Park 32-24 to move two points ahead of the chasing pack in the table.

Widnes, who beat the Black and Whites 46-6 earlier in the season, finally ended their run of eight defeats against Huddersfield winning 24-20.

The Giants must have thought they were on the way to back-to-back victories when they found themselves 16-0 ahead after tries from Nathan Mason, Danny Brough and Joe Wardle with Brough kicking two conversions. Corey Thompson touched down two minutes from the break but his side still trailed 16-4.

Widnes, who themselves were on a torrid run of form, rallied in the second-half to fight back to lead 24-16 thanks to a brace from Joe Mellor along with solo efforts from Stefan Marsh and Thompson.

Lee Radford has already confirmed that forward Frank Pritchard will miss the clash with Widnes, despite being named in the squad, due to a dead leg sustained in the Magic Weekend win over Hull KR last month and will be given an extra week of recovery.

Dean Hadley retains his place having been called up as a late replacement last week with Chris Geen making way.

Widnes head coach Denis Betts has opted to name an unchanged squad from the one that ended their eight-game losing sequence.

Hull FC: Josh Bowden, Gareth Ellis, Mahe Fonua, Dean Hadley, 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.

Widnes Vikings: Chris Bridge, Kevin Brown, Jack Buchanan, Hep Cahill, Jay Chapelhow, Chris Dean, Gil Dudson, Rhys Hanbury, Chris Houston, Macgraff Leuluai, Manase Manuokafoa, Stefan Marsh, Joe Mellor, Charly Runciman, Setaimata Sa, Corey Thompson, Brad Walker, Lloyd White, Matt Whitley.

Prediction: Hull FC by 12

Published on June 3 2016 for Rugby AM.

Salford Red Devils vs Wigan Warriors

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Wigan Warriors will be looking to make it three away wins on the bounce when they take on Salford Red Devils at the AJ Bell Stadium on Friday.

The Warriors have beaten Leeds Rhinos 40-8 and Castleford Tigers 33-26 so far with a string of away games coming up with their next home fixture at the end of June.

The Cherry and Whites ended Castleford’s three game winning run at the Mend-A-Hose Jungle edging a 33-26 thriller which could have gone either way if not for a catalogue of penalties and mistakes.

Head coach Shaun Wane knows they will have to guard against complacency against a strong Salford side saying: “Salford are a well-coached team and their attacking threat is fantastic. Their halves are playing red hot and they have got some good back rowers.”

Wigan come up against a Salford team who are in a good run of form having beaten both Widnes Vikings and more recently Wakefield Wildcats closing the gap on the top eight.

Salford swept aside the resurgent Wakefield 38-8 running in seven tries from Niall Evalds, Ryan Lannon (2), Mark Flanagan, Robert Lui, Junior Sa’u and George Griffin.

The Red Devils are without Niall Evalds who has been ruled out with a knee injury with Justin Carney coming back after completing his suspension.

Shaun Wane has named picked an unchanged group of players following their win last week and reported no additional injury concerns going into this clash.

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

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

Prediction: Salford Red Devils by 4

Published on June 3 2016 for Rugby AM.

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