St Helens travel to Castleford tonight to start the Super 8’s.
Both these sides had last week off so should be fresh as the Tigers look to go one step closer to the league leaders shield.
Holmes, Milner and Patrick are back for the league leaders whilst Matty Smith is back for Saints as they look for the win that will temporarily put them in the top 4.
Justin Holbrook has turned Saints form around and they are a totally different side to the one that was thrashed at Castleford in the cup earlier this season.
They are one of the few sides to beat the Tigers this year but that was at Langtree Park, the narrow loss at the jungle has to be disregarded as Daryl Powell rested half his squad that day due to the extra game over the May Bank holiday weekend.
4 wins from their last 5 has put them on the brink of the play off places and the most likely side from outside the top 4 to claim a play off semi final spot.
This is an altogether different proposition though as a win in France a fortnight ago has put the Tigers 10 points clear at the top, the hard fought win was their 12th in a row and they have yet to taste defeat on home soil.
Whilst Saints form suggest they are more than capable of landing odds of around 11/4 to win this it is worth noting that their away form is poor having won only 3 of their 11 games on the road.
Castleford don’t seem to be putting sides to the sword quite like they were earlier in the season but only twice at home this season have they failed to win by more than the 8 point handicap they concede tonight and you have to think they will win this by more than that and put them within 3 points of the league leaders shield , I think they can win an entertaining game by around 11-15 points, Saints will have more winnable fixtures to come and I think they can claim a top 4 spot after 30 games.
The points line is around 48.5 which you’d expect this game to go over if it was dry but there could be some rain tonight.
The Tigers are very short to win this at around 1/3 but that can be boosted to around 5/6 on the Half Time Full Time. Punters thinking the lead could change hands in the game can get 7/1 for Saints to be winning at Half Time and Castleford to win at Full Time.,the reverse is 12/1.
We have to look elsewhere for a 1st try scorer with Eden out Minikin looks the value to me at 14/1, he’s gone about his business quietly all season whilst the focus has been on the other wing.
Saints fans can get 14/1 for Regan Grace and 16/ for Makinson but I prefer the 20/1 for Jonny Lomax.
On a small pitch there’ll be plenty of action on both try lines, the Red V look to get their big lads crashing over from close in so Scarsbrook is great value to score anytime at 11/2.
Finally the man of the match, Smith’s kicking will be crucial for Saints and he is 10/1 in a wide open market, Roby is a real alternative too at 12/1 but Percival has now become a key player in this side and he would be my choice at 18/1.
It’s hard to see past market leader Luke Gale for the Tigers at 5/1 especially when you consider the very short match win odds, Hardaker at 9/1 and the much improved Mcshane at 18/1 are alternatives but it’s Gale and Percival for me.
Leeds entertain Wigan tomorrow, as always please gamble responsibly.