It’s that time of year where we head north to Newcastle and as always there are some cracking derbies in store, but who will take bragging rights?
Widnes Vikings vs St Helens (Sat, 3:00pm)
There are some great matches to look forward to but this goes down as one of the easier to predict. Saints are on absolute fire, and although all the credit seems to go to Ben Barba just about every player in that team is playing exceptionally well right now.
The Challenge Cup win over Castleford takes them to eight wins out of the last nine. They deserve to be exactly where they are in the Super League table and it will take a very, very good side to beat them at the moment.
Sadly the fixtures have given us Widnes as their opponents, who have lost their last six in the league and resemble an A&E department. They put up a fight in the Cup against Leeds but this is a different challenge altogether and there is only one likely outcome.
Prediction: Widnes Vikings 6-44 St Helens
Wigan Warriors vs Warrington Wolves (Sat, 5:15pm)
This one should be the highlight of the weekend. Wigan have won their last seven; Warrington their last ten, and only two points separate the local rivals in second and third place in the table ahead of this clash.
Warrington edged this one back in February, but both sides have improved greatly since those early days. Both are playing with such attacking freedom that this game should be an absolute delight to watch.
Calling a victor couldn’t be more difficult, but I have really been impressed with the Wolves’ attack in recent weeks and I think that Steve Price’s side can put out a massive statement by winning this one.
Prediction: Wigan Warriors 22-28 Warrington Wolves
Castleford Tigers vs Leeds Rhinos (Sat, 7:30pm)
Over the last year or so this has become one of the biggest rivalries in Super League, but right now these two sides are scrapping for a place in the top four with both in desperate need of a win.
Leeds’ form is particularly worrying, with the Rhinos losing three of their last four Super League matches and only just scraping past Widnes in the Challenge Cup. When these two sides met at Elland Road in March Castleford won by a single point.
However, their drop goal hero that day, Luke Gale, is on the treatment table along with half of his teammates. The Tigers are badly struggling in the backs, without which their classy attacking style simply can’t be executed. I fancy Leeds to nick it this time.
Prediction: Castleford Tigers 16-20 Leeds Rhinos
Salford Red Devils vs Catalans Dragons (Sun, 1:00pm)
Catalans are notoriously poor travellers and are still without a league win in England this season, and it is now or ever to start picking up points if they want to avoid another dice another death in the Qualifiers.
They are four points behind the side occupying safe harbour in eighth, Salford, who themselves need to recover some form having shipped a combined 90 points in their last two league games.
More worrying though will be the performance in the 22-10 Cup exit to Leigh, and Ian Watson will be demanding a response from his men. This certainly won’t be the best game of the weekend but I think Salford will take two crucial points.
Prediction: Salford Red Devils 24-18 Catalans Dragons
Wakefield Trinity vs Huddersfield Giants (Sun, 3:15pm)
Huddersfield will come into Magic with a rare amount of confidence, with Chris Thorman leading them to two wins on the trot against Widnes in the league and then Sunday’s opponents in the Challenge Cup.
Last Friday’s game was a case of one set of players wanting the win far more than the others. Simon Woolford hasn’t even arrived in the UK but the Giants are already getting the new-coach bounce, while Trinity again failed to build on a good result after the thrashing of Hull KR, which was just their second win since beating Huddersfield at the beginning of March.
Wakefield need to improve their form to avoid being dragged into the bottom four battle, but with the Giants starting to find their groove you would have to back them.
Prediction: Wakefield Trinity 12-20 Huddersfield Giants
Hull Kingston Rovers vs Hull FC (Sun, 5:30pm)
If Castleford have a problem with the back division, Hull FC have a nightmare – Lee Radford has had to recall one player, sign another and bring legend Kirk Yeaman out of retirement just to have seven backs available.
Their one saving grace may be the emphasis that is usually placed on their forward pack, much of which remains, but Hull KR will be confident of turning them over despite winning just one league game since mid-March.
FC managed to win the Good Friday derby despite being handicapped with only 12 men, but Rovers have a good Magic record over their rivals and have a great chance to beat them again.
Prediction: Hull Kingston Rovers 24-18 Hull FC