Back to back semi finals at the home of Bolton Wanderers on Saturday as a trip to Wembley awaits the winners .
1st up sees 2nd play 3rd in Super League as Warrington take on Hull FC .
Only 2 points now separate these 2 in the league but it’s the Wire who the bookies fancy to reach Wembley . Sponsors Coral make Steve Price’s side 4/7 to win this in 80 minutes but whichever way you go it’s probably better to take slightly lesser odds on the team to qualify , in case golden point is needed .
Lee Radfords side are 13/8 with Coral to get the job done in 80 minutes but have been very inconsistent so far . It has to be said though if the black and whites are to win a 3rd Challenge Cup in 4 years it will be the hard way as they’ve already had to play Castleford and holders Catalans , add to this they are more than likely to play Saints if they reach the final .
Recent form certainly favours the black and whites with them winning 4 of the last 6 , Wire are on a poor run of 2 wins from 6 including the last 2 games .
I do get the feeling though that both sides have had their feet off the gas in recent weeks with a play off place secure and it’s all about who can raise it on the day . For me that’s Warrington , but this should be a tight affair that could really go either way . Hull are Cup specialists having only lost one cup tie in 3 years but I just fancy Wire to edge this by 1-5 points in what could be a classic . Hull’s form in big games this year has to be a worry , they have been heavily beaten by Saints and Warrington and have lost 2 out of 3 times against Rovers . They are a major threat though and this surely won’t be the only semi final they compete in this year .
Plenty of other markets out their but one I like the look of is 11/4 their is a drop goal in the game , with William Hill .
Man of the match is usually one of the pivots on the BBC and in what should be a tough encounter I’d look to Jake Connor at 7/1 in black and white , just over 9/1 Albert Kelly and Blake Austin in Primrose and Blue at 5/1 just over 9/1 Daryl Clark . Both players have the X factor and there’s a reason they’re favourites in the betting .
Punters looking for a bit of value could do worse than Ben Currie for the 1st try at 25/1 . 9/2 at Betfair for him to score anytime also looks big .
Anything other than a St Helens win in the 2nd semi would be the biggest shock in Cup history and you have to say there’s not much chance of that .
It’s great to see a lower division side get this far and the Halifax players and fans will have a great and deserved day out.
You’re looking at 1/50 for a Saints win , 150/1 was being quoted for a shock (again though if you really want to do that you can get 33/1 for Fax to reach the final ), the best you can get as we speak though is 60/1 on the Betfair exchange .
The league leaders have to concede a 40 point start on the handicap and with big games around the corner you have to ask if they’ll turn the screw or take it easy when clear in front . There’s no chance of complacency , especially as Saints were beaten at this stage last season . They rested 10 players last week to ensure the squad is fit and raring to go .
Depends on which way you want to go you can get Halifax at 13/5 with only a 28 point start at Ladbrokes or St Helens conceding a 56 point start at 10/3 . I’d just favour the Halifax one and maybe just on the pick em handicap .
Obviously very short odds on Saints tryscorers , Scarsbrook anytime at 5/2 looks the best value .
As for man of the match, with Saints expected to rack up a big total I’d have gone for Coote but he’s out . Danny Richardson is 6/1 and hard to ignore if as expected he gets a lot of conversions . Anyone could score 3 or 4 tries to get the award but my choice would be Jonny Lomax . Whilst the pundits have been raving about Austin and Hastings it’s Lomax who’s been the best half in Super League and 5/1 represents decent value given the match win odds . Could be worth a saver on Murrel at 33/1 , despite the scoreline he could get the nod if he made a couple of tries .
Back to the bread and butter of Super League next week as always please gamble responsibly .