Live Rugby League on council tele this weekend as both Challenge Cup Semi Finals are live on the BBC. The last 3 clubs to win the trophy are all involved and the bookies make Wigan favourites to lift the trophy at around 6/4 mainly due to having a more favourable semi final draw.
Leeds and Hull are 1st up on Saturday, Leeds bring back 9 big names who missed the defeat at Wigan whilst FC look set to name from the same squad that narrowly beat Huddersfield last Friday.
Bookies are struggling to split the 2 sides but most just make FC 5/6 favourites to win in the 80 minutes with the Rhinos around 11/10.
Whatever the rights and wrongs of Leeds resting a near full side at Wigan last week it does show how committed they are to taking back the trophy from Hull.
They had won their last 3 prior to the trip to the DW, we have to completely disregard last week’s result due to Leeds having so many out, and this included a close fought 10-7 win over their semi final opponents a fortnight ago.
The black and whites have been very inconsistent this season as coach Lee Radford has looked to rotate his squad to avoid burn out as they chase Cup and
Grand Final glory.
They were very scrappy in beating Huddersfield at the KCOM last week but they could have had one eye on this.
Prior to that they had lost 3 on the spin which included the defeat at Headingley.
It is worth noting though that Leeds had to endure alot of pressure on their line against FC 2 weeks ago and were rather unfortunate to win the game by 3 points.
As the odds suggest this is really a game that could go either way but Hull have already beaten League leaders Castleford this season, as they look to retain the trophy they won at Wembley last year, and I just think they can get home in a very tight hard fought encounter.
No result though can be ruled out, including the draw, so whichever way you’re going it could be safer to look for slightly reduced odds for teams to qualify for the final as a posed to the 80 minutes match win odds. Leeds backers may also be able to shop around for a 2 point start on the handicap.
There shouldn’t be more than a try in it either way but I just fancy the side from the east coast to bash their hoodoo against the Rhinos. For all Leeds have won both League encounters this year FC were very unfortunate not to win the last game at Headingley and are all the better for having the likes of Gareth Ellis back in the side. They seem to peak for the big games and Leeds may have to settle for a shot at Old Trafford.
Talanoa heads 1st try betting at around 11/1, closely followed by the likes of Shaul and Kelly at around 12/1. All these are dangers inside the 20 but I just prefer Mahe Fonua at around the same odds.
Ryan Hall is a big game player and he looks the best bet in Rhinos colours at 12/1. His wing partner Tom Briscoe is around 14/1.
Best value bet of the game for me though is Ablett to score a try anytime at 4/1.
Finally the man of the match, the halves always do well on the BBC but I think this game will be won and lost in the ruck area, and the battle between man of steel Danny Houghton and Matt Parcell could be key.
Sneyds kicking could be crucial and he is a worthy 6/1 favourite but I prefer Houghton at 8/1. Albert Kelly will also have plenty of takers at 10/1.
As for the Rhinos Moon and Parcell are shortest at 10/1 with Mcguire at 12/1. Moon has been a revelation in the halves this year but Parcell has been the signing of the season for me and has to be the value at 10/1.
No doubt who the bookies favour in the 2nd semi final as Wigan are around 3/10 to reach their 1st Wembley final since 2013 as they take on Salford.
The bookies have gone on name rather than League position as the Red Devils currently sit 4th in the table, 3 points ahead of the Warriors.
Mind you recent form favours cup favourites Wigan as they have only lost once in 6 whilst Salford have lost 4 of their last 5.
The Red Devils are around 5/2 to get the job done in 80 minutes, again though if you fancy them it could be worth finding a price to reach the final in case they need golden point.
I think though big game experience favours Wigan and they may just get home, the recent Salford form is very worrying and threatens a tremendous season so far, incredible where they are now though when they were 30 seconds from being relegated 10 months ago.
It is worth noting for all that the Red Devils are higher in the league, Shaun Wane’s side have had real injury problems for most of the season ( for some games they’ve had as many missing as Leeds did last week) and it’s no coincidence that results have improved as players have come back.
Those players will also be feeling the benefit of not having had a tough season behind them and should now be at full fitness.
The Warriors struggled against the Rhinos youth side last week and may struggle to win this by more than the 8 point handicap though, which makes you look towards the handicap betting.
You can get the Red Devils getting a 10 point start on the handicap if you shop around and that has to be the value in a game that could be closer than the odds suggest.
Salfords recent form just doesn’t suggest to me they’re value to win this at 5/2 but they can keep it close, the 2 leagues were both won by the visitors so it’s 1-1 so far in 2017.
Burgess opened his account for the season against the Red Devils in February and he’d be my 1st try pick.
Finally the man of the match, Sam Tomkins is finally regaining his fitness scored a good try last week and is popular in the BBC studios so he just gets my vote ahead of George Williams.
As for the Red Devils, it’s Robert Lui that makes Salford tick and I’d just prefer him to Todd Carney.
The Super 8 starts on Thursday as always please gamble responsibly.