Bookies make Champions Wigan slight favourites to lift the Challenge Cup when they take on holders Hull FC at Wembley this Saturday.
Both sides should be at near full strength for the eagerly awaited clash that should be as close as last year where Hull edged a very tight game against Warrington.
Hull’s form has been a little inconsistent of late but there’s no doubt that Coach Lee Radford is managing his squad in a bid to avoid the burn out that cost his side a place at Old Trafford last year.
There’s certainly no doubt they had one eye on Wembley when heavily beaten by Huddersfield last week, in fact one of their few decent performances in recent weeks was the semi final win over Leeds.
Ironically Shaun Wane used a similar tactic to win the double in 2013, guaranteeing a play off place early so he could rotate his squad late in the season.
Wane has no such luxury as a mid season slump, partly down to a depleted squad through injury, has left the Warriors playing catch up in a bid to claim a play off semi final spot.
They play St Helens in a massive game 6 days after Wembley.
It’s no coincidence that the Warriors form has improved since key players have returned from injury.
Whilst Wigan are generally around 8/11 to win the line is gradually moving towards the black and whites and by Saturday I expect there to be nothing between the sides in the betting.
You can get around 6/5 for a Hull win and in what should be a tight final I think they may just edge it.
They have saved their best performances for the big games with 2 wins over Castleford, including a cup quarter final. Their other 2 cup wins they have been equally as impressive, convincingly beating Catalans and Leeds.
Wigan had a good win against Salford last week but 3 weeks ago were badly beaten by the same Leeds side that Hull put to the sword, they played ok in their semi final against a Salford side who can’t buy a win at the moment
The Warriors still look to be in pre season mode after all the injures and have already lost twice to Hull this season.
The black and whites performance against Leeds in the semi really should make them favourites for this in my eyes, and whilst Wigan have a very good record in the capital they may have to get used to being the bridesmaids on Saturday. They did beat Hull at Wembley in 2013 but that was in a deluge, rain would be Wigan’s best hope again on Saturday.
In what could be a tight tense showdown it may be better to take the 2 point start on the handicap for Hull but I think they can get home by 6-10 points.
Wigan backers may look to the slightly lesser odds on them lifting the trophy in case the game goes to extra time.
A good value bet could be around 4/1 for the 1st scoring play being a penalty, surely both sides will take the option of putting points on the board.
Joe Burgess is the 10/1 favourite to score the 1st try and is very hard to see past given his try scoring record this year, Fonua at 12/1 would be my choice in black and white.
Williams and Sneyd share favoritism at 7/1 for the Lance Todd Trophy
Half backs have a very good record here and whilst you can’t see past Sneyd winning the award again I would just favour 8/1 Sam Tomkins in Cherry and White.
Tomkins is gradually getting back to his best and is very popular in the BBC studios, Williams is a danger as is captain O’loughlin at 10/1 but it’s Tomkins for me. The likes of Kelly at 8/1 and Houghton, who could easily have got it last year for his match saving tackle, also at 8/1 are dangers but you have to think that Sneyds kicking will be crucial. Gareth Ellis is also too big at 14/1 in his last season.
Super League back on Thursday as Hull go to Leeds as always please gamble responsibly.