After Catalans’ Cup triumph it’s back to the league, with some crucial fixtures. Here are my predictions…
Warrington Wolves vs Hull FC (Super 8s, Thu, 7:45pm)
Warrington need to get back in the game very quickly after the disappointment of their poor showing at Wembley, because their place in the top four is far from safe at the moment.
With three tough fixtures to follow, victory is close to a must for Steve Price and his side, but that said there is surely no better fixture for them to have right now than Hull FC at home.
It’s hard to put into words just how poor Hull have been of late, and if Warrington looked devoid of ideas in the Cup final then they have nothing on an FC side missing all their half-backs and without any confidence at all. It might not be points galore, but the Wire will come out on top.
Prediction: Warrington Wolves 22-4 Hull FC
Huddersfield Giants vs Wakefield Trinity (Super 8s, Fri, 7:45pm)
The reason that Warrington should be sitting a little worried is the form of Huddersfield, who are now just four points from the play-offs after a run of 11 wins in 12 Super League matches.
They haven’t lost at home since mid-April, and next to step into the John Smith’s Stadium is a Wakefield side that the Giants have beaten three times in the past four months.
The season is over for Trinity, with repeating last season’s fifth placed finish the best that they can hope for. They will realistically need to win this to have a chance, but I don’t see it happening.
Prediction: Huddersfield Giants 32-18 Wakefield Trinity
St Helens vs Wigan Warriors (Super 8s, Fri, 7:45pm)
Saints ended their wobble/crisis last time out with victory at Wakefield, which sets up this home derby clash nicely with a win securing them the not-so-prestigious League Leaders’ Shield.
They have bigger trophies to win and they may well face Wigan again in the Grand Final, and having beaten them twice already this season they will be more than happy to inflict more pain on their dear neighbours.
Both of those were tight affairs and hopefully this is another good game. Neither side seems to be at their peak right now, but I fancy Wigan to come out strongly and spoil the party.
Prediction: St Helens 20-28 Wigan Warriors
Leeds Rhinos vs Hull Kingston Rovers (Qualifiers, Sat, 3:15pm)
Leeds have claimed two wins from two so far in the Qualifiers but didn’t convince entirely in either against Championship opposition, while Hull KR recovered from defeat to Salford with victory away at Toronto.
The Rhinos are scoring points again but they’re shipping them by the bucketload as well, and Rovers’ pacy new back division will want to get a piece of the soft, makeshift equivalent.
There are points in this one and if the Robins can tough it out down the middle they have a great chance. They need this win a little more than Leeds do – not that either are safe from anything just yet – and I think they can get it.
Prediction: Leeds Rhinos 22-30 Hull Kingston Rovers