It’s hosted internationals and Challenge Cup semis, but Friday night Super League finally arrives at the Leigh Sports Village as the Sky cameras take in Leeds Rhinos visit to Leigh Centurions.
Both sides are looking for their first win after opening week defeats but the bookies are firmly of the opinion it’ll be the Rhinos opening their account for the season when the final whistle blows around 10 o’clock.
Leeds skipper Danny Mcguire is back in the side after missing last week’s defeat at Saints meanwhile Mickey Higham and Willie Tonga return for the hosts who are without Martyn Ridyard and Glenn Stewart.
Super League sponsors Betfred give Leigh a 10-point start on the handicap and if they are as poor in defence as they were at Cas last week, they will need a lot more than that. Leeds were the better side at Langtree Park and should really have won the game, they lacked guile close to the line to turn territory into points but McGuire’s return should help improve this.
Leigh showed last week they don’t possess the same power in defence as St Helens and a repeat of the chances Leeds had at Langtree last week will see the visitors win this comfortably.
The Rhinos also easily won the Super 8s Qualifiers game between the two sides last September, admittedly though both sides had already secured their Super League status for this season.
Whilst the Centurions were badly beaten by a Castleford side that didn’t get out of second gear, Leeds should really have opened their account with a win at St Helens so you have to think on that form that they can cover the 10-point handicap.
This is a big game for both clubs as in a 23-game season, you really don’t want to start with two defeats, but I think the 2015 Treble winners can get home by around 16-20 points.
11/4 for the Centurions to win may appeal when they find their feet in Super League, but I think the experience of the Rhinos should tell tonight. Again though, it’s very early days, strange results can happen anytime in Super League but particularly this early in the season.
The Rhinos are very short at 1/3 in the match betting, this can be boosted to 8/11 on the Half Time Full Time. However, this could be risky as Leigh may come out of the blocks early with a passionate crowd behind them.
I expect there to be a lot of points tonight, so maybe going for the overs could be better value than trusting the handicaps. Leigh’s last home game against a Super League side, Huddersfield, had over 70 points in it. This Centurions side is set up to score tries, so expect an entertaining game. Obviously, a change in the weather could lead to a dramatic reduction in match points.
Tom Briscoe and Ryan Hall head first try markets at 11/2, but both seemed out of sorts last week. Kallum Watkins looked sharp at times against Saints and 8/1 is decent value for him to cross first.
Ryan Hampshire at 16/1 looks the first try pick for the Leythers; he scored against former club Castleford last week. Don’t forget Betfred double first try odds if your man goes on to score a second try, but check T&C’s.
Best value bet of the game though has to be Carl Ablett to score a try anytime at a standout 7/2. The second-rower had an average try scoring season in 2016 but scored 11 tries in the 2015 treble winning season.
Finally Man of the Match – please fun bets only here! It seems Phil Clarke is picking it so he is bound to make some real left field choices. Burrow and McGuire head the market at around 8/1, but if Leeds had of managed to get the win last week the champers would have surely gone to full-back Ashton Golding, his stock will still be high in the Sky box so he looks the pick at 10/1.
As for the hosts, Josh Drinkwater heads the betting at 12/1 but club captain Micky Higham really is the talisman and he looks better value at 16/1. So it’s Golding and Higham for me.
Super League v NRL over the weekend as the World Club Series gets underway. We’ll have a full betting review for Warrington v Brisbane and the World Club Challenge between Wigan and Cronulla tomorrow.
As always please gamble responsibly.
Click here to go to the Betfred website to view all their Rugby League prices.