Anything could happen as the Qualifiers come to a close. Here are my predictions…
Salford Red Devils vs Toulouse Olympique (Qualifiers, Thu, 7:45pm)
It looked like Super League survival was certain a couple of weeks ago, but two consecutive defeats have put them right back into the dogfight with defeat potentially putting them in the Million Pound Game.
It’s certainly no coincidence that they’ve won five out of five with Jackson Hastings in the team, and now lost two in a row without. His class is on a different level and without him they’re an ordinary side again, so his return is massive.
Toulouse know that they realistically need a win here, despite their remarkable efforts in overturning Hull KR last weekend. In their results, performances, style and attendances, they have proven themselves ready for a step up into Super League in the future.
This season may have just come too soon for them, but they will give their all to the end. Salford should be rejuvenated though, and I think they will just scrape through.
Prediction: Salford Red Devils 30-16 Toulouse Olympique
St Helens vs Castleford Tigers (Super 8s, Fri, 7:45pm)
None of the Super 8s matches have anything resting on them, but the game of greatest interest will be between two sides preparing for semi-finals next week.
Even that fact tarnishes the prospects of this one a little, with both sides resting some of their key players ahead of the play-offs, but the manner of both sides’ wins last week impressed.
Castleford look to be peaking at the right time but travelling to Wigan will be no easy task, but nor will this trip to a St Helens side who finally look to be back in form after that great victory over Warrington. These games are always hard to predict but having seen Saints rip the Tigers apart three times already this season, I’ll go for them to come out on top again.
Prediction: St Helens 18-10 Castleford Tigers
Wakefield Trinity vs Warrington Wolves (Super 8s, Fri, 7:45pm)
Nothing of interest here, but after the battering that Warrington took last week, they will need quite some pick-me-up here ahead of another meeting with Saints.
Wakefield capitulated at Castleford (as they tend to do) and with the season long since over for them, I expect the Wolves to put on a stronger showing.
Prediction: Wakefield Trinity 24-32 Warrington Wolves
Wigan Warriors vs Hull FC (Super 8s, Fri, 7:45pm)
One side is on a seven-match winning run, and hoping to record the first (and only) unbeaten Super 8s campaign in the format’s short history, while the other is on a ten-match losing run. This prediction lark can be easy sometimes.
Wigan have lost just once at home all season, and there will be no threat to the record ahead of the visit of Castleford in the semi-final. For Hull, their chance of picking up another win this year disappeared as they let it slip late on against Catalans, and they will just hope to keep it respectable here.
Prediction: Wigan Warriors 32-10 Hull FC
See my predictions for the rest of the crucial Qualifiers matches on page 2…