Wigan Warriors vs Widnes Vikings
Third-placed Wigan Warriors are hoping to make up ground on the top two when Widnes Vikings travel to the DW Stadium tonight.
The club sit just a point behind Warrington Wolves and two behind leaders Hull FC, but after both contested the Challenge Cup final last weekend, the Warriors will look to capitalise on any league slip-ups.
Both clubs have had an extra week off after neither took part in the recent showpiece at Wembley so both camps will be fresh and ready from action, with Wigan hoping to make it back-to-back wins after beating St Helens 25-0 last round.
The Warriors dispatched the in-form Saints with relative ease with Anthony Gelling grabbing the headlines with a hat-trick as Wigan nilled their rivals for the first time since 1989.
Willie Isa insists his side have their own destiny in their hands as they look for the double facing both Warrington and Hull FC in the coming weeks: “The big thing for us is that we’ve got control over our own destiny and, as long as we keep in control we’ll be fine.”
Whereas Widnes last time out, despite not having anything to play for, took the spoils over Wakefield Wildcats beating them 40-8 on home soil. The response will have delighted head coach Denis Betts after his side were beaten 38-0 the previous week.
When the two teams have come together it has been a tight affair with both teams won their away games with the Vikings claiming an impressive 18-12 win at the DW before Wigan returned the favour edging a narrow 7-0 win.
Wigan Warriors head coach Shaun Wane has opted to name the same squad that beat St Helens two weeks ago.
Tony Clubb, Sean O’Loughlin, Dom Manfredi, Michael McIlorum and Joel Tomkins all remains on the sidelines through a variety of injuries.
Today’s visitors Widnes make two changes from last time out with Macgraff Leuluai and Charly Runciman both drafted back into the 19-man squad in place of Patrick Ah Van and Setaimata Sa.
Wigan Warriors: John Bateman, Joe Bretherton, Josh Charnley, Dom Crosby, Liam Farrell, Ben Flower, Anthony Gelling, Oliver Gildart, Willie Isa, Frank-Paul Nuuausala, Sam Powell, San Sarginson, Jake Shorrocks, Matty Smith, Ryan Sutton, Taulima Tautai, Lewis Tierney, Sam Tomkins, George Williams
Widnes Vikings: Kevin Brown, Greg Burke, Jack Buchanan, Hep Cahill, Jay Chapelhow, Chris Dean, Gil Dudson, Connor Farrell, Tom Gilmore, Rhys Hanbury, Aaron Heremaia, Chris Houston, Macgraff Leuluai, Stefan Marsh, Joe Mellor, Charly Runciman, Corey Thompson, Lloyd White, Matt Whitley
Prediction: Wigan Warriors by 14
St Helens vs Hull FC Preview
Newly-crowned Challenge Cup winners Hull FC travel to Langtree Park to face St Helens hoping there is no Wembley hangover.
The Black and Whites came from behind against Warrington Wolves as they recorded their first win at the national stadium. The club found themselves 6-0 down at half-time after Matty Russell touched down after a superb break from half-back Chris Sandow.
Wire extended their lead when Ben Currie crossed but Kurt Gidley was unable to add the conversion and missed a relatively easy penalty. But a 40/20 from Marc Sneyd gave Hull the momentum swing they needed and that was capitalised on when Mahe Fonua scored their first try.
Fonua had a part to play in the match winning try when he palmed back a Sneyd kick into the path of Jamie Shaul who grounded near the sticks with Sneyd adding the conversion.
There was late drama still when Danny Houghton somehow managed to stop Ben Currie from scoring with one if not they tackle of the season.
They face a St Helens team eager to bounce back from a 25-0 humbling at the DW Stadium against Wigan Warriors which was incidentally the first time they have been nilled since 1989. The Warriors dispatched the in-form Saints with relative ease with Anthony Gelling grabbing the headlines with a hat-trick.
Kieron Cunningham has made three changes to the side beaten last time out in the league with Theo Fages, Jack Ashworth and Oliver Davies coming into the fold in place of Lama Tasi and the suspended duo of Luke Thompson and Luke Walsh.
Hull have rung the changes following their final excursions making five changes to their squad in total. Danny Houghton, Mark Minichiello, Carlos Tuimavave, Gareth Ellis and Lance Todd winner Marc Sneyd all absent.
Coming into the 19 are Jordan Abdull, Feka Paleaaesina, Curtis Naughton, Jansin Turgut and Leon Pryce.
St Helens: Jonny Lomax, Jordan Turner, Adam Swift, Alex Walmsely, James Roby, Kyle Amor, Atelea Vea, Jon Wilkin, Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Greg Richards, Dominique Peyroux, Theo Fages, Joe Greenwood, Jack Owens, Shannon McDonnell, Matty Fleming, Oliver Davies, Jack Ashworth, Morgan Knowles
Hull FC: Jamie Shaul, Mahe Fonua, Fetuli Talanoa, Leon Pryce, Scott Taylor, Liam Watts, Jordan Abdull, Feka Paleaaesina, Chris Green, Jordan Thompson, Dean Hadley, Steve Michaels, Curtis Naughton, Sika Manu, Josh Bowden, Frank Pritchard, Kirk Yeaman, Jansin Turgut, Danny Washbrook
Prediction: St Helens by 12
Published on September 2 2016 for Rugby AM.
Castleford Tigers vs Wakefield Wildcats Preview
Castleford Tigers vs Wakefield Wildcats Castleford Tigers host West Yorkshire rivals Wakefield Wildcats looking to make it three wins on the trot over their neighbours.
Only pride is at stake for both teams with the gap between them and the top four too great to bridge but both teams will want to get one over on each other make no mistakes about that.
Cas started the Super 8s in fine form beating both Hull FC and Wigan Warriors in successive weeks but fell narrowly short against Warrington Wolves losing 14-11.
Chris Chester will want his wounded troops to respond after his side were crushed 40-8 by Widnes Vikings last round.
The two teams met in round two of Super League but it was Castleford who prevailed with a crushing 40-6 win over their West Yorkshire rivals at the Mend-A-Hose Jungle. It was in fact the Wildcats who got the scoring underway when Stuart Howarth crossed as early as the 7th minute but from there it was one way traffic in favour of the Tigers.
Ben Roberts, Luke Dorn and Adam Milner all crossed for tries along with braces for Oliver Holmes and Denny Solomona.
Things didnâ€™t get any easier for Wakefield at the Rapid Solicitors Stadium with Cas gaining the two points in a 46-20 win. The Tigers ran in eight tries including braces for Greg Minkin and Oliver Holmes but had to come back from a 16-10 half-time deficit.
Daryl Powell has largely kept with the same squad that took to the field in round three of the Super 8s but has made the one change which sees centre Jake Webster replace Frankie Mariano who will leave the club at the end of the current season.
The Wildcats have made six changes ahead of this clash with joint top club try scorer Tom Johnstone returning from injury. There are also returns for Anthony Tupou, Scott Anderson, Mickael Simon, Matty Ashurst and Jordan Crowther.
Losing their places in the 19-man squad are Ben Jones-Bishop, Mikey Sio, Jason Walton, David Fifita, Judah Mazive and James Batchelor.
Castleford Tigers: Rangi Chase, Matt Cook, Ben Crooks, Luke Dorn, Paddy Flynn, Luke Gale, Ryan Hampshire, Oliver Holmes, Will Maher, Paul McShane, Grant Millington, Adam Milner, Greg Minikin, Junior Moors, Larne Patrick, Andre Savelio, Denny Solomona, Gadwin Springer, Jake Webster
Wakefield Wildcats: Scott Anderson, Tinirau Arona, Joe Arundel, Matty Ashurst, Jordan Crowther, Liam Finn, Craig Hall, Ben Harrison, Tom Johnstone, Max Jowitt, Reece Lyne, Jacob Miller, Jonny Molloy, Scott Moore, Nick Scruton, Mickael Simon, Anthony Tupou, Bill Tupou, Andy Yates
Prediction: Castleford Tigers by 8
Published on September 2 2016 for Rugby AM.