Slow starters Castleford travel to the in-form Huddersfield Giants as they look to build on their first victory of the season last weekend.
Ian Watson’s shrewd business over the last two years seems to be paying off for Huddersfield. Having won three of their four opening matches, including an exceptional defensive performance against Salford last Sunday, the Giants will be hoping to maintain their impressive start to the season.
It’s been a different story for Castleford, whose start to the season has not been what many fans would have been hoping for. However, after getting off the mark with a high-scoring win over Hull FC, there will have been a sigh of relief within the squad. On paper Castleford have more than enough to upset their West Yorkshire neighbours if they get it right.
Theo Fages’ absence from the squad will be a big loss for the Giants as he and Jack Ashworth drop out. Michael Lawrence returns to the 21 alongside Danny Levi, who will boost the side upon returning from suspension.
There is some promising additions to the squad for Castleford too with Liam Watts, Kenny Edwards and Jake Mamo available for selection in the 17.
Match Preview: Key battles:
Danny Levi vs Paul McShane: Both no.9s will be looking to make the most of the work done by their forwards, and both players will be key in the tussle for field position. The experience and influence of McShane in unquestionable, and if Castleford are to get a result, he will certainly be a big part of it. Yet, despite playing just two games this season, Levi’s talent has already shown in Super League. With an impressive pack to work off the back of, he should get plenty of opportunities to impact the game.
Luke Yates vs Joe Westermann: Yates has got better every season since he came to super league, and has been a standout performer for Huddersfield so far. His relentless defence and battering carries will hurt any side. Westermann is more of a classic no.13 with great hands and the vision to find passes to outside runners, and so his experience and intelligence will be needed in a game that will be heavily dictated by the forward packs.
Will Pryce vs Jake Trueman: Watson’s decision to play Tui Lolohea at fullback and move Pryce into the halves has paid off so far this season. Pryce’s energy and running game has caused problems for the opposition and may well lead to a key moment in Saturday’s fixture. Trueman has struggled to show his true quality this season, and after losing halfback partner Gareth O’Brien in Round One, it’s been difficult for him. After a confidence boosting win over Hull FC, he will be looking to use his unpredictability and pass-selection to his side’s advantage.
Where the game will be won and lost:
Huddersfield have been by far the more impressive side this season, and after producing their best performance of the season against Salford last week, it’s hard to see them failing to make it 4 from 5. However, it’s important to remember the quality throughout Castleford’s side, as well as how little of the season has been played. With some key players returning to the squad, and on the back of scoring 33 points last week, a Castleford victory is not out of the question. Ultimately, what will likely see Huddersfield see off a hungry Castleford side will be defence. Huddersfield never looked like conceding against Salford, and their ability to pin the Red Devils in their own half was a big part of it. The game could go either way but based on form the Giants will likely have too much for Radford’s side.
Score Prediction: Huddersfield Giants 22-10 Castleford Tigers