Table toppers Castleford head to Wigan for this week’s Thursday night Rugby. Sky were promoting this as a top of the table clash a few weeks ago but three games without a win has seen Wigan drop out of the top four.
Wigan’s injury crisis shows no signs of improvement but Farrell and Gelling could feature but Gildart is out after getting injured at Headingley last week.
Minikin comes in for Millington for the Tigers and Joel Monaghan is out with a groin strain.
Bookies surprisingly made Wigan 2-point favourites early in the week but it has gone the other way now with the Warriors getting a 2-point start on the handicap, and that sounds about right to me.
It is difficult to split the two sides but you have to just favour the visitors given they’ve only lost once so far this season, albeit in their last game on the road at Salford.
Of course there’s no shame in losing to the Red Devils as they are one of the form teams in the league as things stand and it’s only Castleford’s poor recent record at the DW Stadium that puts me off them.
They lost twice here last season, including a League game at around this stage of the season where Wigan had similar injury problems.
This is a real test of how far Daryl Powell’s side have come and if they are real contenders this year they should really be beating a patched up Wigan.
It’s worth remembering though that whatever side Wigan field will still have plenty of talent, including player of the season so far George Williams, and they should push the league leaders all the way.
But you have to think the Tigers will get the job done with the likes of Hardaker and Gale showing the kind of form that should earn them a place in England’s World Cup Squad.
There’s just too much inexperience in the Wigan side and Cas are very hard to stop in full flight.
Super League sponsors Betfred make Castleford 5/6 to win tonight with the Champions even money.
If you fancy Wigan it surely makes more sense to back them at 10/11 getting a 2-point start on the handicap.
But it’s another Tigers win for me to send them into Easter week top of the table. An away win by around 6-10 points is about where I see this.
The last time there was this kind of pressure on Castleford, at Warrington, they put on a great show with Hardaker outstanding and went home with the two points.
Plenty of alternative handicaps at Betfred, if you really fancy Cas to turn it on you can get 9/2 that they win by more than 16 points or it’s 13/8 for Wigan to win by 7 points or more.
Teams have been taking the option of putting points on the table in recent games and it’s 7/2 that the first scoring play is a penalty. If this is for you, just back a penalty first scoring play with both teams at 8/1 to half your stake.
Minikin and Eden unsurprisingly head first try lists at 11/2, it’s hard to look past Eden given the 10 tries he already has this season. Mind you Minikin and Gale are only one and two tries being him.
Don’t forget Betfred double your first try odds you’re player goes on to score a second try. Anytime try bets last the whole 80 minutes and Ben Roberts looks good value here at 9/4.
Finally the man of the match, we felt a bit robbed with 20/1 Kallum Watkins last week, a stark reminder that this market is for fun bets only. Small stakes and large prices.
Gale and Williams head the market but are very short at 5/1 given the closeness of the two teams in the betting, but both are very hard to oppose given current form.
With Hardaker only 6/1, we’re going to look elsewhere for some value, reports from Cas suggest that Ben Roberts was in fine form for the Ford’s last week as they put Huddersfield to the sword and with some strange picks already this season, he could offer better value at 11/1.
Liam Marshall is in fine try scoring form and if he was to score in a Warriors win, 33/1 would look very big odds, so it’s Roberts and Marshall for me.
There are five games on Friday on a bumper night of Super League, with Warrington v Leeds being live on TV.
As always, please gamble responsibly.