Here are my thoughts on this weekend's action in Super League Round 16. |
Leeds Rhinos v Warrington Wolves
Amazingly Sky has chosen this as their Friday night game - they are obviously not trying to sell mini season tickets like the Rhinos. Get a pillow if you are watching this on the TV.
This game should really draw an audience - if only to see Cullen changing his underpants every time he makes eye contact with his chairman. He talks such a great game pity his team can’t deliver - they must be worn out from all their off the field antics.
Bridge continues his rehab - seems to have been on the sidelines for a while - Reardon is due some knee surgery that will keep him out until August and Vinnie Anderson is also out - bad news for Leeds that - Vinnie continues to demonstrate what a good judge of a player the Saints head coach is.
As of the mighty Blue/Gold machine - a narrow win against the favourites for relegation is a good indication of their form. Should be unchanged from Sunday - the only possible change could be Diskin if he recovers from the groin - ouch - problems he has encountered of late. Understand Matt’s now a soprano!!
Pitch should be in good condition after this week’s extensive rolling.
Prediction: Morley not to see the end of the match and Leeds to win by 25.
Leeds 40 - Warrington 15
St Helens v Salford Reds
Showing Salford two weeks running could have hit ratings hard - hence the default to Rhinos game.
Talk of Sean McRae coming to Salford should see them regress back to form they showed under Harrison. What is Simms doing offering McRae the job - nice fella that he might be he is hardly the inspirational leader I would be looking for to get me out of the mire. Bet Sean can’t believe he got beat in an interview by Tony Smith!! On a positive note we will not have to suffer Sean pontificating on Sky anymore. Last week the Reds showed Huddersfield’s form to be a temporary blip when showing the Giants a clean pair of heels.
Saints are back at the top of the tree after a sluggish start and you would have to be a fool with money to back against them finishing in this position come the end of round 27. Anderson, you have to believe, is too professional and shrewd to let his side collapse on the back of injuries or any potential scandal like Millward did.
Players such as Gidley, Roby, Graham and Meli are just starting to raise their game - an ominous thought for the rest of SL.
Whilst Knowsley Rd is just about the worst stadium in SL thankfully the gents toilets do now have a roof - no porcelain but a roof - the 19th century has finally hit St Helens.
Prediction: Saints by plenty - Coley to see red.
St Helens 50 - Salford 10
Catalan Dragons V Bradford Bulls
The Froggies are starting to justify their inclusion in the SL especially in a variety of stadiums throughout the south of France. The current crop of Antipodean mercenaries do seem like they are intent on earning a crust. The likes of Mogg, Greenshields and McGuire have added both quality and effort and blended with some good ‘giocare francese’ they are a formidable force on their own midden.
As for Bradford their predicted demise has yet to happen. In McNamara they have a pragmatic figure, he has the potential to be a major force in the game. He has managed to get the very best out of a makeshift squad that seems to spend more time at A&E than on the field. Morrison has been a brilliant signing - candidate for MOS. But for a couple of last minute losses to the Rhinos the Bulls would be up there challenging with Saints for top spot.
The Bulls include Chris McKenna fresh from his role in ‘Saturday Night’s alright for fighting’ at the Revolution night spot in Loser-town. They also welcome back Terry Newton - the French have been supplied with surgical neck braces as Terry will not have clobbered anyone for a couple of weeks.
Prediction: Murphy for the first try and Bradford by 5 in a high scoring match.
Catalan Dragons 32 - Bradford Bulls 37
Harlequins V Wigan Warriors
Possibly the best game of the weekend - the travelling pie-eaters should boost what have been very poor crowds at the Stoop. This is all more disappointing given the entertaining style played by the current Harlequins side.
McDermott has fashioned a style that has helped the development of several young players including Clubb, Melling, Worincy, Scarsbrooke and in recent weeks Luke Burgess and Joe Walsh.
In Mark McLinden they have one of the most maligned players in SL. Mark seems to have brought the best out of Danny Orr who should relish the contest against his former side. Scott Hill’s continued absence focuses attention once again on his rationale for coming to the SL.
As for their opponents - they seem a bit of a Jekyll and Hyde, the reliance on Barrett to perform must be a worry to Leeds-bound, if the rumours are correct, Brian Noble. Without the stand off firing Wigan seem impotent and often collapse to sides they should beat easily. It is about time the likes of Gareth ‘Oops was that your head again’ Hock, Stuart Fielden, Phil Bailey and David Vaealiki demonstrated the quality they are supposedly being paid for.
Difficult one to call - I would like to see Harlequins do it on the day however their often erratic nature may count against them.
Prediction: Hock and Tyrone Smith to see yellow - Wigan by 10
Harlequins 20 - Wigan Warriors 30
Wakefield Trinity Wildcats v Hull KR
A surprising choice for the televised game - Sky must be hoping a close contest will help mask the lack of quality that will undoubtedly be shown by these two basement dwellers.
If completion rates hit 50% I will amazed, if the missed tackles falls below a combined 40 I will also be amazed and the penalty count could be the highest of the season - in AP’s words "top viewing - really".
I am struggling to eulogise about the game so I will keep it succinct - whoever loses this game will be relegated.
Prediction: Cockayne to see red Wakefield by a bucket load.
Wakefield Trinity Wildcats 45 - Hull KR 20
Hull FC V Huddersfield Giants
An interesting game no doubt. Hull’s spectacular collapse last week at the JJB is yet another glaring example of why Peter Sharp was unable to secure a head coaches job in Australia despite applying for zillion vacancies. He could not even get the South’s gig in front of McRae!!
Current results would lead to a conclusion that last year was a flash in the pan. Many are shocked at their demise - me included. The disruption caused by Cooke has really taken its toll on what should be a good side on paper at least. Their forwards look solid enough and their backs - Cooke apart - are not dissimilar to last year’s crop - a conundrum indeed.
Huddersfield fell to earth with a bang at the Willows - over confidence being their undoing it would seem. It will be a test of their top six aspirations how they bounce back. No doubt John Sharp will have kicked some backside after last Friday’s disappointment. Although he did think "they were the better side" but John thinks they dominate large parts of games even when the opposition put 50 past them.
Brad Drew is their talisman and if he continues his current form will be not be far away from MOS. The Giants have some underrated players who on their day can step up to the plate. One such player is Stuart Jones - better known to Leeds fans for his assist at Senior’s testimonial. He is developing into a very competent player at this level.
Should be a close one but Hull cannot play as bad against a side ideally suited to their style.
Prediction: Richard Swain MOM and Hull by a couple
Hull FC 22 - Huddersfield Giants 20