The Super 8s and Qualifiers get underway this week. Here are my predictions…
Widnes Vikings vs London Broncos (Qualifiers, Thu, 7:45pm)
If any side is to lose their Super League status then it will surely be Widnes – having finished bottom last season and managed to escape, they are in far worse shape this time around and look less likely to do so again. They couldn’t buy two points and will get a huge shock against a side like London, who are used to winning week in and week out.
Last time they ran in 72 points at Barrow, a tough place for any side to go, but it was going to Featherstone the week before, keeping them quiet and doing enough to get the win themselves, that really sealed their place after already beating Halifax.
They have a fantastic hooker in James Cunningham, a quality half-back in Jarrod Sammut, and a deadly finisher in Kieran Dixon. They can cause anyone problems, and with the confidence they have they can certainly turn over the Vikings. All the pressure is on the home side, and I expect the Broncos to come out on top.
Prediction: Widnes Vikings 12-22 London Broncos
Hull FC vs Wakefield Trinity (Super 8s, Fri, 7:45pm)
Neither of these sides have a great deal to play for in the run-in, with neither having the consistency to make any kind of challenge for the top four.
Hull and Wakefield met three weeks ago and that didn’t go too well for the Black and Whites. There are big problems for Lee Radford to sort out, and it may only be after drifting through the Super 8s that they are resolved.
Prediction: Hull FC 16-28 Wakefield Trinity
St Helens vs Huddersfield Giants (Super 8s, Fri, 7:45pm)
Saints were humbled by a brilliant Catalans performance in the Challenge Cup semi-final to deny them a potential treble, but they need to forget about it quickly and get in the right frame of mind to seal the Shield and prepare for the play-offs.
If any team is to upset the top four it will be Huddersfield on current form. This perhaps wasn’t the best fixture to come first when they can’t afford any slip-ups, but it may turn out to be a good time to face Saints. Either way we need some excitement in the Super 8s, so I’ll go for a Giants win.
Prediction: St Helens 18-20 Huddersfield Giants
Warrington Wolves vs Catalans Dragons (Super 8s, Fri, 7:45pm)
The fixture list threw us a good game here as the two Challenge Cup finalists have a dress rehearsal for the Wembley showpiece in two weeks’ time.
The efforts of both, and Catalans in particular, on Sunday mean this won’t be the best game, while players will potentially leave a little something in reserve with a view to that final. The sides couldn’t be separated when they met a few weeks back and it could be very close again.
Prediction: Warrington Wolves 28-26 Catalans Dragons
See the rest of my predictions on page 2…