The Easter program is upon us already, and this is the time of year that the league starts to take shape.
The bigger clubs with bigger squads usually do better over the holiday period with 2 games in 3 days, mind you it’s usually the Monday fixtures where the big clubs have the real advantage.
It’s a bumper Good Friday as always with 2 big derbies on Sky and 5 games altogether.
The 1st game sees the return of the Hull derby, a fixture that the league missed last year as Rovers were relegated to the Championship.
Both sides have had indifferent starts to the season and languish in the lower half of Super League, surely only temporary for the black and whites but you have to feel the Robins will struggle to make the top 8.
Both sides are boosted by the return of key players with Lunt and Houghton set to feature.
The bookies only see this going one way and make FC 2/5 favourites to claim the 2 points and it’s hard to argue against that, for all there’s only 2 points between the sides there’s no doubt that Lee Radfords side have been hampered by the trip down under to face Wigan.
Looking at the 2 squads there does look like only one winner, but in what is always a very passionate affair I do think the hosts can stay inside the 8 point handicap.
FC had a comfortable win over an, admittedly, poor Catalans side last week but that should see them get a little bit of rhythm and confidence.
2 years ago FC staged an amazing comeback to score 22 points in the final 20 minutes to snatch a win, and whilst this probably won’t be as dramatic the close scoreline could be repeated.
I think a close away win by 1-5 points is about where this will end up, with the value probably being FC by 1-12 points at 2/1.
Mind you 2 years ago, the Robins led at half time only to go onto lose the game, a repeat of that is around 7/1.
Hard to see any other than Mcguire and Sneyd for man of the match, Houghton would be a live candidate but may be eased back in.
The 2nd game sees Wigan travel to the Totally Wicked Stadium to take on rivals St Helens in one of the most eagerly awaited derbies for years, with the 2 sides filling the top 2 spaces at the top of the table.
Strangely Wigan have won the last 8 Good Friday derbies only to go onto lose the return fixture on 7 of the 8 occasions.
If you believe in trends you can get 6/4 for an away win.
This has been billed as a clash between Ben Barba and Sam Tomkins as both have had impressive starts to the season, the Saints favourite more so as he is in the top group for both tries and assists this year.
It’s a very tough game to call, Saints lost their last home game to a patched up Leeds side and maybe the Warriors can perform a similar snatch and grab win to go level on points with their arch enemies.
It really is a game that could go either way though, as reflected in the odds, and you can’t even rule out the draw at a big price.
You can get Wigan with a 4 point start at 11/10 and that is probably the best value, Saints backers can get 4/7 for a home win.
The 4/7 can be increased to 11/10 on the Half Time Full Time if you fancy the hosts strongly but I can’t see more than a try either way and just prefer Wigan by 1-5 points.
The focus will be firmly on Barba and Tomkins for this one, but the battle at dummy half could be key so Leulaui and Roby would be my man of the match picks.
3 other games today, Widnes get a 14 point start for their trip to Warrington.
Whilst Wire are much improved and should win this one these 2 sides have had some close battles of late and you’d think the Vikings could stay inside that.
It’s 9/2 for a shock away win but I think the hosts can justify long odds on and win this by 6-10 points.
Catalans look in dire form and look terrible value at 11/5 to win at Salford.
The Red Devils concede an 8 point start on the handicap but I think they can win this by at least 2 scores and justify odds of 4/11 favouritism.
Finally Huddersfield get a 12 point start on the cap for the visit of Leeds.
The Giants looked very poor at Wigan last week and have since dismissed Coach Rick Stone.
It’s hard to see anything other than an away win here at 2/9 but games between these 2 tend to be close so maybe the hosts can stay inside the 12 point handicap.
A shock home win is available at around 4/1.
Short turnaround as the clubs play again on Easter Monday, as always please gamble responsibly.