There are crucial ties galore as the Qualifiers in particular heat up. Here are my predictions…
Wakefield Trinity vs St Helens (Super 8s, Thu, 7:45pm)
So what is going on at Saints? It’s only two defeats, but after the same number in 25 matches across six scintillating months, it of course spells impending doom in that corner of Merseyside.
The foot may be off the pedal a little, and even Castleford weren’t the same side at this stage last year. Big players haven’t produced, most glaringly (NRL-bound, if rumours are to be believed) Ben Barba, but there is plenty of time left to put things right.
Wakefield are one of the few sides to really test St Helens in every meeting, winning at home and falling just short away. Another win over poor old Hull will have given them confidence, and they will certainly believe this one is there for the taking.
Prediction: Wakefield Trinity 24-20 St Helens
Castleford Tigers vs Warrington Wolves (Super 8s, Fri, 7:45pm)
A second-half comeback wasn’t quite enough for Castleford to take the points at Wigan last week, and with Warrington walloping a baby Dragons side these two now sit level on points inside the top four.
If either of these sides want to catch the Warriors to earn a home semi-final, victory here is a must. Cas put in an infamous performance to beat the Wolves on their own patch a couple of months back, and hopefully we get a similarly exciting contest this time as well.
If the Tigers learn the lessons of a dismal first half last week then they can certainly compete, but Warrington’s attack has been superb in the past couple of weeks, regardless of opposition, and they can rack up the points to win this one.
Prediction: Castleford Tigers 26-32 Warrington Wolves
Huddersfield Giants vs Hull FC (Super 8s, Fri, 7:45pm)
My two teams are experiencing rather contrasting fortunes right now.
One has won ten of the last 11 games, with a new coach producing a remarkable turnaround in fortunes, playing a great style of rugby and getting the best out of players that had long been written off.
The other has lost the last five, despite the return of the big names missing for so long, with players turning out performances hardly worthy of the shirt as they sink further down the table.
No prizes for guessing who I’m going for.
Prediction: Huddersfield Giants 38-12 Hull FC
Salford Red Devils vs Widnes Vikings (Qualifiers, Sat, 3:15pm)
Salford got a massive, massive win last week at Hull KR, and if they can follow it up with another victory here then they will be well on their way to retaining their Super League status automatically.
They really should take the two points against a Widnes side whose shambolic statistics I grew bored of quoting a long time ago. They were beaten, late but deservedly, at home by Championship London last week and will need miracles on that form just to make the Million Pound Game.
Prediction: Salford Red Devils 32-16 Widnes Vikings
See my predictions on the rest of the weekend’s action, including some big ties in the Qualifiers, on page 2…