A passionate West Yorkshire derby for us to enjoy live tonight as the Sky Cameras are at the Mend-A-Hose Jungle for Leeds visit to early pace-setters Castleford.
Whilst both these teams have four points each, the Rhinos have played a game more, their only loss being at Langtree Park in week one.
Rangi Chase has been suspended pending an internal inquiry so misses this one but on loan Zak Hardaker has been given permission to play against his parent club.
Carl Ablett and Mitch Garbutt miss out for the Rhinos but Brett Delaney is back in the squad having played on dual-registration for Featherstone last weekend.
Despite failing to impress, Leeds will probably have settled for two wins from three games so far this year as they look to put last year’s nightmare behind them. Their two wins have been against promoted Leigh and Salford and they have to go up a level today against the roaring Tigers.
It’s along time since a Leeds side got an 8 point start on the handicap against Castleford, you can get 10 in places, and Super League sponsors Betfred have them 11/4 for a win.
You can’t see Leeds winning this when you look at how slick the Tigers were in dismantling Warrington last Friday night. It’s still early in the season and only time will tell if Daryl Powell has cured his sides inconsistency.
Leeds won their last road trip at Leigh but were lucky to hang on as the Centurions pushed in the last 10 minutes.
These two have had some famous battles over the years but Cas won both games last year. Although they are still not a top four side, there’s no doubt Leeds look a better side than in 2016 but their scratchy wins against Leigh and Salford don’t lead me to believe they can land tempting odds of 11/4 to win here.
The Tigers are very short at 1/3, this can be boosted to 4/6 on the Half Time Full Time, but I think they’ll just get home by maybe 6-10 points.
I am worried about the consistency of Castleford, but this is always a big game for them and one they’ll be well up for. They look a good side though with Zak Hardaker back to his best and could just be too strong for the Rhinos.
Leeds will certainly put up a better fight than Leigh did and whilst the handicap is about right, I think I’d just lean towards Brian McDermott’s side staying inside it. Despite their poor showing last year, the Rhinos only lost at Cas by four points last March.
There has been some low scoring affairs in early season games between these two, 32 points in the game this time last year, so going under on total points could be more value than the handicap. This can be a dangerous ploy though on a very small pitch.
Usual suspects Greg Eden and Minikin head the first try lists at 11/2 and 13/2 respectively, but I think I’d prefer Jake Webster at 14/1. As for the Rhinos, Ryan Hall is back in the tries this year and as wingers tend to score plenty of tries here, he rates decent 1st try value at 7/1.
Tom Briscoe has looked out of sorts to me but is available at 8/1, remember Betfred will double your first try odds if your player goes on to score a second try, check T&C’s.
Finally the Man of the Match. I’ve always said this is a fun bet but there has been some bizarre choices by the Sky team. We felt robbed last week by the stange choice of Remi Casty when Luke Walsh had scored most the Catalans points. To be fair, backers of Greg Bird can be equally aggrieved.
Anyway, there is usually some decent prices so you only need to put a couple of quid on to get a bit of interest. As the halves and kickers have been overlooked, Gale is only second favourite tonight at 6/1 with Hardaker the 5/1 jolly.
Paul Mcshane is back in the side and at 16/1 could be the strange choice this time, he’s popular with the Sky team and could just make the difference tonight. As for the visitors, Danny McGuire is the shortest price at 10/1 with Rob Burrow at 12/1.
I’ve been impressed with Matt Purcell this year and he really should have got Man of the Match at Leigh a fortnight ago, at 12/1 he could be worth another try. This market should carry a health warning though given recent picks.
One other game today is Hull’s trip to Huddersfield. Both have made unconvincing starts to the season but Huddersfield have won their last two. They also won the corresponding fixture last season and they will fancy their chances against an FC unit that lost to Catalans last time out.
This could be a very tight affair, but I do think the Giants can stay inside the six-point handicap. Betfred offer 7/4 for a home win but it maybe better to take the insurance of the six-point start on the handicap.
Hull look very short at 1/2 as neither result here would really be a surprise. I can’t see more than a try either way.
It’s Saints v Wakefield and Wigan v Leigh tomorrow. As always, please gamble responsibly.