Here are my thoughts on this weekend's action in Super League Round 6. |
SALFORD V WIGAN
Salford are on the telly again this week and I’d like to know what any of us have done to deserve such a harsh sentence? Which Sky employee is responsible for selecting which SL fixtures are to be broadcast? Whoever it is must be a closet Ruggeroid with an agenda who is determined to market SL by showing it in the most insipid and depressing light as possible, just to make the Ruggeroid game seem moderately more entertaining in comparison. I’d rather develop haemorrhoids and then bounce up and down on a Space Hopper than watch Salford.
Sky can go get stuffed. I won’t be watching this game and I care even less about commenting upon it. I’ve just subscribed to Setanta Sports so I’ll be watching a couple of ‘live’ NRL games on the telly this weekend instead.
SportingOdds Handicap: Salford (+2) at EVENS, Wigan (-2) at 5/6
My Tip: Wigan by 4
WAKEFIELD V LEEDS
Wakefield begin this game as joint leaders of the SL comp and thoroughly deserved it is too. Since John Kear took over the coaching reins they’ve come a very long way in such a short space of time after looking like relegation certainties back in August, and with a seemingly weaker squad on paper in 2007. Some might argue their current form makes them favourites to beat Leeds this Friday night, particularly given Leeds excrementitious start to the season.
It is alleged by some that Jamie Peacock is the best forward in the world with a GB shirt on after last year’s Tri Nations. Stick him in a Leeds shirt in 2007 and he’s ordinary, and when he’s not ordinary he’s anonymous. It’s not all his fault that Leeds have been ordinary this season but his current form and his lack of enthusiasm does mirror the general malaise and half-arsed attitude which is prevalent within the rest of the squad. Leeds softcock pack also remains a major cause for concern. And Brent Webb’s performance last week against Hull KR provided sufficient evidence as to why he was only rated as the 12th best fullback in the NRL last year. Nevertheless, if ‘Nick Bradley-Qalilawa’s Bitch’ can take out the Man Of Steel award last year, there’s no reason why Brent Webb can’t do the same this year.
Even the ‘Believe Leeds-ists’ are thin on the ground among Leeds fans these days with a significant number of them screaming for coach Tony Smith to be replaced. Another defeat for Leeds at Belle Vue might just render these ‘Believists’ an endangered species and threatened with extinction. I live in hope that the ongoing process of natural selection which necessarily resides at the shallow end of the gene pool does that job sooner rather than later. But it won’t happen by the end of this week as I tip Leeds to win.
SportingOdds Handicap: Wakefield (+6), Leeds (-6) both at 10/11
My Tip: Leeds by 12.
HARLEQUINS V BRADFORD
Harlequins have lost their way in recent weeks against Warrington and Wigan after making a brighter-than-expected start to their SL campaign, whilst the Bulls have settled nicely into top spot after their shellacking of Salford last week; their only defeat registered away from home at St Helens in Round 4.
I’ve been impressed with the Bulls so far as I didn’t expect them to start this well. Many of their off-season signings have been ridiculed by opposition supporters but they’re doing the business and the Bulls squad are looking like a solid unit and working hard for one another. I think they’ll have the edge against the Quins and remain top of the SL ladder. Ferocious Arsefart will be well pleased on the Bulls board.
Let’s hope there’s considerably more than the paltry 3,132 attendance that turned up at ‘The Stoop’ for the Quins previous home fixture, but I wouldn’t bet on it.
SportingOdds Handicap: Harlequins (+6), Bradford (-6) both at 10/11
My Tip: Bradford by 8
HULL V ST HELENS
A repeat of last year’s Grand Final, Hull may be without Gareth Carvell this weekend, though whether Paul Cooke returns to the Hull side remains to be seen. They’ll be boosted in the confidence stakes by finally notching up their first win of the season away at Huddersfield last week but I think they’ll have a problem overcoming a Saints side that is running into some red hot form.
St Helens may well see Paul Sculthorpe making a return to the side after his latest knee operation, but Willie Talau is a doubtful starter and his place is likely to be taken by the impressive youngster Stephen Tyrer.
Hull can boast an excellent home record at the KC Stadium against St Helens in recent years (apart from the 0-46 blow-out last March) but the current form guide doesn’t provide them with enough hope in this one. I tip St Helens to win but not necessarily at a canter like they did away at Warrington last week.
SportingOdds Handicap: Hull (+8 ), St Helens (-8 ) both at 10/11
My Tip: St Helens by 14
CATALANS V HUDDERSFIELD
Merde! This is a tough one to predict, though you wouldn’t think so considering Huddersfield have lost all five of their SL encounters so far and are firmly rooted at the bottom of the SL ladder. However, all five of those defeats have been by just a skinny 8 point margin or less.
Catalans Dragons have picked up just 3 points out of a possible 10 and may be considered unlucky not to have picked up more than that. I tip the French side to take the spoils in a close game on the basis of home advantage.
Should be an impressive turnout for this game as we all know Fartown fans travel to away games in huge numbers.
SportingOdds Handicap: Catalans (-6) at 5/6, Huddersfield (+6) at EVENS
Catalans by 4.
WARRINGTON V HULL KR
‘Dire’ will be without Lee Briers who was described earlier this week as ‘The smartest player in Super League’ according to his coach Paul Cullen. If going AWOL two games out of every three or spitting his dummy out or back-chatting and whinging to the referees is considered smart, then yes, Lee Briers is definitely the smartest player in Super League. Halfback partner Chris Bridge is a doubtful starter on Sunday so this may mean an unusual halfback pairing of Vinnie Anderson and Jon Clarke. Adrian Morley might make a return after a four week absence.
Hull KR are very ordinary and shouldn’t be in Super League but they’ve still managed to win 4 out of 5 games and their enthusiasm and will-to-win has been impressive. They embarrassed Leeds last week and should have won by a bigger margin. Michael Vella in particular made big metres every time he took up the ball, though that’s not unusual for any bona fide prop forward against Leeds.
This game is winnable for Hull KR but their fortunes have to change soon. They can’t keep winning on the basis of pure passion and enthusiasm alone, surely? And it’s about time other clubs matched their enthusiasm and took them more seriously. ‘Dire’ were extremely dire last week getting hammered by Saints so this Jekyll and Hyde side will probably cut loose this time around and perform well. I therefore tip them to gain revenge for last year’s embarrassing Mickey Mouse Cup exit at the hands of the same opponents.
SportingOdds Handicap:Warrington (-12), Hull KR (+12) both at 10/11
My Tip: Warrington by 12