One of the biggest games of the season so far live on Friday night Rugby as Castleford make the short trip to Headingley to take on Leeds.
The 2 sides had differing fortunes in the cup last week, Leeds going through easily at home to Featherstone whilst Castleford showed more inconsistency on the road by losing at Hull.
Michael Shenton misses out for Cas whilst Ablett is out for the Rhinos Ashton Golding is still not quite ready for a return to the 1st team.
The Tigers have never looked back since thrashing Leeds at the start of the season and sit 6 points clear at the top of the table, whilst their home form though has been rock solid this year the Tigers have been inconsistent on the road. Last week’s defeat at the KCOM was their 4th in 9 League and Cup matches away from home this season and that will give the Rhinos plenty of confidence. Leeds won’t want to lose to Cas for the 3rd time this season, they also played at magic, and their home form is good having won 7 of their 8 games so far at Headingley.
Bookies are finding it very hard to split the sides and this truly is a game that could go either way, you certainly can’t rule out the draw at big odds, Shenton will be a big miss, especially to Eden on the wing, but there’s tries all over the park for the Tigers and the Cas faithful will be looking for a repeat of last year’s impressive win here
Daryl Powell’s table toppers are marginal 8/11 favourites to win this where no result would be a surprise. I just lean towards the hosts at 11/8 with Super League sponsors Betfred due to the poor Tigers away form and the loss of their influential Captain,the Rhinos also look very solid on their home turf.
There shouldn’t be much in it though in what could be an very close high scoring game, with the score often changing hands.
Leeds get a 2 point start on the handicap and with the draw or a drop goal being a real player in this game that could be the safer option than the outright win at slightly bigger odds.
No surprise that try scoring sensation Greg Eden heads the 1st try lists at around 15/2 but it could be worth looking at the 14/1 for Leeds old boy Zak Hardaker.
Back to form Tom Briscoe would be my pick for the Rhinos at 12/1.
Eden is around 8/1 to repeat his magic weekend hat trick against the Rhinos .
Finally the man of the match, Gale is a worthy 13/2 favourite but Hardaker got it just for being an ex Rhino last time and as it’s hard to rule out him doing that again he could be the value at 17/2 in a wide open market.
Moon is the shortest price in Rhino colours at 11/1 but it’s Parcell that makes Leeds tick for me and he would be my pick at 12/1 alongside Hardaker.
3 other games tonight,Wigan concede a 6 point start on the handicap for their trip to in form Huddersfield.
The Giants have won their last 3 but star signing Jake Mamo is out for a month.
For 78 minutes Wigan looked like they were on their way back to form at Wire last week but a crazy last 2 minutes nearly cost them a semi final place.
4/9 is very short odds for a Wigan side that haven’t won in the league since April but with players back I think they can shade this one, maybe though by less than the one score handicap.
15/8 would have been a great price for the Giants before the players withdrawals.
Wakefield get a 14 point start for their trip to Hull. FC had a great win over Cas last week and will be full of confidence.
1/6 odds for a home win may sound very short, but justified as Wakefield look like a side who’s season is over already.
No real chance of dropping out of the top 8 they are safe for next season, and when this was confirmed last year they went on the beach for the remainder of the year.
4/1 seems like good odds for an away win when you consider their lofty League position but it’s a comfortable home win for me.
Finally St Helens concede an 8 point start on the handicap as they host Salford.
The Red Devils form on the road has been very good and they’ll fancy their chances of a win at Langtree Park.
Saints are very short at 4/9 given their erratic form and I do think Salford look good value at 15/8 to win the game.
Salford at even money getting a 6 point start is probably the best value though.
Back again next Thursday as always please gamble responsibly.