The last 2 sides to win the Grand Final clash on Friday night Rugby as Wigan travel over the Pennines to take on Leeds.
The 2 sides had differing fortunes in the cup last weekend as Leeds lost a cracking game against Hull whereas Wigan reached Wembley with a win over out of sorts Salford.
This Rhinos side will look very different to the one that turned up at the DW 2 weeks ago as coach Brian Mcdermott rested most his players for last week’s semi final, the Rhinos name the same squad that lost in Doncaster 6 days ago whilst Shaun Wane has to make do without Joel Tomkins and the banned Sam Powell.
The Warriors are just getting their season up and running after a mid season slump but with the bulk of their squad now back out on the park they will be hoping to go on a decent run , this is a must win game for them if they’re to keep in touch with the top 4 which is looking a little closer now they have lost only once in their last 6 League and Cup games.
Leeds form has been quite inconsistent of late we can forget the defeat at Wigan due to the side they put out but they have won 3 and lost 3 from their last 6 in League and Cup. Their form at Headingley has kept their season together though as they’ve only lost twice all season on home turf.
The bookies make the Rhinos around 5/6 favourites to win this but the momentum seems to be with Wigan and I think the Warriors can win a tight game here by 6-10 points.
The visitors are around 6/5 to win the game but if you shop around you can get them with a 2 point start at around even money on the handicap.
Wigan’s away form isn’t great but they have played a large chunk of the season with the kind of absentees Leeds had at Wigan 2 weeks ago, it’s no coincidence that results have improved as players come back.
They looked very good in parts against Salford last week but average in other areas, like a side in pre season which is understandable given players returning.
Leeds were badly beaten in the 2nd half last week, albeit by a very good side, and that has to be a worry despite their 2nd place in the league.
This is a fixture that has tended to be won by the home side in recent years but that trend has to end sometime and now could just be the time, you get the feeling this is a bigger game for Wigan, defeat and their league campaign is all but over but a win could leave them only a couple of points off the top 4 places. Especially after Saints impressive win at Castleford.
If you disagree with me and fancy the hosts you can either back them at around 5/6 to win the game or around 10/11 conceding a 2 point start.
Ryan Hall proved he’s the man for the big games last week with the 1st try and I see no reason to ditch him for this at 11/1, Joe Burgess was robbed of a try last week and he looks a value favourite at 9/1 to score 1st today.
Finally the man of the match, Tomkins looks like getting back to his best and landed for us last week, he is a real danger at 7/1 but in what could be a real scrap I just prefer John Bateman at 16/1.
Danny Mcguire has put Wigan to the sword plenty of times in the past and looked Leeds best player last week, he is popular in the Sky Studio so he just gets my vote at 12/1 over 9/1 Parcell.
Usually low scoring between these 2 are Headingley and I expect defences to be on top again.
3 other games tonight, Hull may be resting a couple of players but they still give Salford an 8 point start on the handicap.
The Red Devils seem to be out of form at the wrong time of the season and you’d want more than 12/5 for them to win at the KCOM.
FC may be short at 1/3 bit I think they can win this by more than 2 scores.
Another team struggling for form, Wakefield, travel to Huddersfield.
A poor defeat to St Helens cost Trinity the extra home game in the middle 8 and I think they may lose here today aswell.
The Giants turned their season around at just the right time to escape the middle 8 and are around 4/9 to win this despite being below Wakefield in the table.
If I’m honest neither side appeals, it’s 15/8 for an away win, but if pushed would just prefer Huddersfield to win by more than the 4 point handicap.
Finally in the middle 8 Warrington travel to Widnes.
This is a 7 game shoot out to secure a place in Super League next year and unlike the Super 8 the points are reset to zero for all clubs.
The game may have been overshadowed by the Rangi Chase failed drug test but a win here will set Wire up for survival with 4 home games to come.
The Wolves concede 8 points on the handicap but Widnes could possibly keep this to within a score, Widnes are too short at 2/1 to pull off a win and the visitors are worthy 2/5 favourites.
2 live games in the middle 8 on Saturday as always please gamble responsibly.