With Castleford tieing up the league leaders shield and the home semi final that goes with it the race is now on to claim 2nd spot and the other home semi final.
2nd plays 5th on Friday night Rugby as Saints travel to Headingley to take on Leeds. It’ll be an emotional night as it’s the final game played in front of the old South Stand before it’s refurbished.
Both sides will be looking to bounce back from defeats last week, a win taking Saints back into the top 4.
Leeds are around 8/11 favourites to win this against a Saints side who were on a 4 match winning run before last week’s home loss to Hull.
The Rhinos have been a little inconsistent in recent weeks having a great win against Wigan 2 weeks ago sandwiched between poor losses to Hull, in the cup, and at Wakefield last week.
The Rhinos form at home has been quite solid though and you would expect them to edge a close game here.
You can get Leeds conceding a 2 point start on the handicap if you shop around but surely it’s safer just to take the slightly lower match odds if you agree with me. It’s around 11/8 for Saints or you can get them getting a 4 point start on the cap with the likes of Skybet and Super League sponsors Betfred if you disagree with me.
Again though in a tight game, the 7/1 the game is either level at half time or full time is probably the best value.
Justin Holbrooks side have been on a decent run of late and have impressively won on their last 2 trips on the road, at Wakefield and Castleford 2 weeks ago.
Before that though they couldn’t buy a win away from Langtree Park and the emotion of the last game in front of the terrace may just lift the Rhinos.
These 2 sides met at Headingley at the end of June with Leeds running out 2 point winners and this could be just as close again in what I expect to be a tight game. The league game at Langtree Park was also won by 2 points, Saints winning that one, showing there’s not much between these 2 sides when they play each other. Leeds are though 5 points clear of Saints in the league.
I think Leeds form at home can just see them over the line by around 6-10 points but I expect both of these to be in the semi finals come the end of the Super 8.
Both sides have next week off so get a good rest after this.
Hall leads the way in the 1st try market at 10/1 but young starlet Jack Walker appeals more at 16/1, as for Saints I just prefer 18/1 Ryan Morgan over 14/1 Jonny Lomax.
Finally the man of the match, a wide open market as usual and less likely to be won by a multi tryscorer like Jake Webster last night.
Joel Moon looks good value at 10/1 and at 8/1 Matty Smiths place kicking could be crucial but this game will be won at dummy half for me and the leagues 2 most in form 9’s, Roby and Parcell, go head to head. Roby was sensational as Saints won at Castleford and at 10/1 and is my pick alongside the signing of the season Parcell who is a worthy 8/1 joint favourite with Smith. Parcell ran the show as Leeds beat Wigan 2 weeks ago.
2 other games tonight, both probably best left alone with sides who are playing at Wembley next week in them.
Wigan concede a 12 point start on the handicap against a Salford side who seem to be in freefall.
The Warriors won comfortably against Huddersfield last week and should win again if they can take their minds off Hull in 8 days time.
It’s hard to argue a case for the Red Devils given their form, even at 10/3, as Murdoch-Masila is out but with the Warriors having an eye on Wembley and only an outside chance of the play offs maybe the value is with Salford getting a 12 point start.
The other Wembley Finalists, Hull FC, concede a 10 point start on the handicap for the visit of Huddersfield.
The Giants gave Hull a real fright here late on in the regular season and with Hull having an eye on retaining the Challenge Cup can make life hard for them again.
They were poor at Wigan last week but can put that behind them tonight, whilst I certainly couldn’t rule out Huddersfield pulling off a shock win at around 11/4, the 1/3 home favourites may just get home. The Giants though can keep the winning margin below double figures.
2 games from the Middle 8 on Saturday including Leigh’s visit to Catalans, as always please gamble responsibly.