Adrian Morley – what a start to the Super League season!

 

adrian-morley-leeds

Two rounds in and with the exception of Wakefield and Widnes, everyone has a win to their name. It really does look like being a corker of a season.

Last weekend saw excitement a plenty with Wakefield leading the Giants at half time, Leeds being pushed all the way by a very efficient and physically strong Salford, Wigan given the scare of their life by Widnes who led for almost all of the game, Castleford going to the top of the table after beating Warrington in a belter and the Leigh getting their maiden win over, of all sides, St Helens – and that was just Friday!

On Thursday, Catalan showed the sort of mettle we haven’t seen before and disposed of Hull.

It was just the best round of Super League I can remember. So what have we learned?

  1. Salford don’t make many mistakes and Robert Lui is in fabulous form, and teams up brilliantly with Micheal Dobson with some powerful forwards who create great running room for Junior Sau – they are underestimated in their games
  2. Leeds need to believe in themselves and just be a little more patient. Their defence looks good in the middle but they need to work right across the park.
  3. Huddersfield need to start caring about the ball, complete their sets and they will trouble almost everyone. They just give it up too often.
  4. St Helens have got some early season issues. They really need to find a leader fast.
  5. Leigh can compete with anyone. They have had a tough start and have played really well. They need to avoid injuries but they are really well organised, disciplined and happy. It really looks good on the park.
  6. Catalan look like a team who can win, as long as Luke Walsh stays fit and his team remain as disciplined as they were against Hull. I have rarely seen a performance like this from a French team. Very impressive.
  7. That leaves Warrington and Castleford, and it’s hard to weigh this game up. No bias here but I don’t think the Wolves were at their best with many of their star names out and I think the Tigers were.

I can’t wait for this weekend. We start with Castleford against Leeds on Thursday at the Jungle and whilst Castleford will be the rightful favourites, I just think Leeds are starting to click and Leeds on the handicap seems a great option.

Hull take on The Giants, who are at home for the third straight game with both desperate to win. It’s amazing, it’s only the third round but these points are almost worth double at the moment. If the Giants can hold the ball they could spring an upset.

St Helens take on Wakefield and whilst the Wildcats showed glimpses last week, the Saints should be back to winning ways at home.

Wigan at home should be able to account for Leigh but again Leigh with a 16-point start are very appealing and will be a hard nut to crack buoyed with confidence, as they are after their win last weekend.

Warrington will bounce back against Salford but that doesn’t mean Salford are easy beats, it just means they are up against a very good team, in my opinion the best in the Super League. If the Wolves aren’t the best, then Catalan might be and for that reason they will account for Widnes. You have to give up 18 points on the handicap line but at home with their tails up, they just might defy that mark.

It’s another special weekend of rugby games and they just keep coming.

 

MCB’s SUPER LEAGUE BETTING PREVIEW

Six cracking games are in store this week in the Super League. Complete with the odds from your club’s betting service, we take a glance at all of them.
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HULL FC v CATALAN DRAGONS

Thursday, 8pm
Hull FC will go into this a short-priced favourites following their hard-earned 12-8 win at Wakefield, but in truth they were far from convincing in awful conditions. Josh Bowden is back in the squad after missing out the Wakey clash with an ankle injury, but they will miss half-back Albert Kelly who is suspended. Jake Connor comes in to replace him. Quite how much they will continue to miss Dean Hadley (hip) remains to be seen.
Danny Washbrook (above) should get a fair reception from a large and vocal crowd as he makes his 150th appearance for Hull FC. Hull FC also received a boost this week when half-back Marc Sneyd, who has the highest kick-conversion rate in Super League, extended his contract until the end of 2019.
Catalan Dragons won 20-12 at home to Warrington thanks to a late try from Fiji international Brayden Williame, but they will be without star full-back Tony Gigot after he was suspended by the French Rugby League Federation before the start of the season. The Dragons will also be without winger Fouad Yaha, so the balance appears to be in the hosts’ favour. Not a game to put the house on, in our opinion, but we’ll side with Lee Radford’s side. He’ll make believers out of us yet.
VERDICT: HULL FC TO COVER

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HUDDERSFIELD v WAKEFIELD

Friday 8pm
Huddersfield Giants were a little guilty of underestimating Salford and crashed to a 20-30 home defeat last time out. They have also been dealt a major blow with the news that forward Tom Symonds will be out for at least six weeks with a knee injury following their 28-16 opening-night win over Widnes Vikings. Sam Rapira deputised last Thursday and will do so again.
Coach Rick Stone will shuffle his pack and hopes that Dale Ferguson (groin), evergreen winger Jermaine McGillvary (above, knee) – who scored his 125th try for the club last week – and skipper Leroy Cudjoe (knee) will overcome their respective injuries to face Wakefield. The Giants were major underachievers last season and have a point to prove.
Wakefield finished in the top eight last season and put up a decent showing against last year’s Challenge Cup winners Hull FC in their 20-30 defeat at Belle Vue, conceding late on. They possibly need to be a little more savvy in the ruck but there is no question that Chris Chetser’s side have brought in some decent players in the summer.
They are being written off too early by some pundits and while they will start as underdogs here, this will be a good barometer to see exactly where exactly Wakey are. Wakefield on the handicap could be a tempting play for us, but we take the hosts to win.
VERDICT: WAKEFIELD TO COVER

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LEEDS RHINOS v SALFORD

Friday 8pm
Leeds Rhinos got off the mark in Super League with a 17-14 win at Leigh Centurions last week but their attack looked tepid and they made very hard work of it. Rhinos’ gave the ball away in their own half far too often for punters’ liking and the kicking game was not all it probably should have been.
The weakness in attack put plenty of pressure in the defence but the goal-line D was outstanding, particularly at the death when Leigh looked like scoring. It was only some quick-thinking from Liam Sutcliffe, to land a late 40-20 that lifted the siege. Rhinos star Jamie Jones-Buchanan (above) has been cleared of an RFL disciplinary charge and will play on Friday.
Salford boast a similar record to Leeds, having won last weekend following defeat in the opener. The signing of Todd Carney is a huge one for Salford, although it will take him time to adapt to the style of play. Winger Justin Carney will be missing, though, after he pleaded guilty to a Grade C contact with a match official against Huddersfield. That may tip the balance.
Leeds are no good things, despite playing their first game at home. Headlingley should be rocking but it must be remembered they lost seven games at home last season. Backers will hope that Adam Cuthbertson’s early-season form can give Leeds a lift. They get the tentative vote.
VERDICT: LEEDS TO WIN

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LEIGH CENTURIONS v ST HELENS

Friday 8pm
The big news out of St Helens this week was a swap move that sees Zeb Taia joining the club with Joe Greenwood heading to NRL outfit Gold Coast Titans. The 32-year-old Taia returns to Super League on a three-year deal after one season Down Under, having previously had three seasons with Catalan Dragons. It does not look a great swap, as 23-year-old Greenwood is a rising star.
What Taia does bring is big-game experience and a good offload. Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook is brought in to fill the void left by Greenwood.
Head coach Keiron Cunnigham is still chasing his first trophy since taking over in 2015 and while centre Ryan Morgan and Luke Douglas have also joined from the NRL, the return of Matty Smith can’t come soon enough.
He is still in a boot and it will be a few weeks before he is fit. When he does, St Helens’ halves should be formidable. Jonny Lomax will also be an influential cog this season.
Leigh Centurions were a little unlucky against Leeds last week and they are best judged on that narrow defeat than when opening against Cass, which was never going to be an easy start for the new-boys and that 44-16 walloping should soon be behind them.
Saints would appear too powerful in this one, and a Leigh will have to wait another week or two to get off the mark. We take Saints to cover the handicap.
VERDICT: ST HELENS TO WIN AND COVER

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WARRINGTON v CASTLEFORD

Friday 8pm
Daryl Powell has made just one change in his 19-man squad for the trip to Warrington, with Luke Million stepping in to replace Paul McShane, who is serving a one-match ban. Cass looked class in their opening clash with Leigh Centurions, a result put into better light when the Leeds were run so close by the Super League new-boys last week.
Warrington similarly looked very sharp in their World Club Series win over Brisbane, putting the Broncos under a lot of pressure and moving the ball crisply.
It will be intriguing to see how much The Wire left on the field and how much of a different test they will be for the Tigers, who found things coming a little too easy against Leigh.
Head coach Tony Smith has named an unchanged 19-man squad following the stunning 27-18 upset over the Broncos, which saw them congratulated in a motion tabled in the House of Commons.
They were a middle-of-the-pack outfit in our estimations at the start of the season and their loss in Perpignan to an average Catalans side gave credence to that. But last week’s win could be a catalyst for better things and beating dark horses Cass would go a long way to proving their win over the Broncos was no fluke.
VERDICT: WARRINGTON TO WIN

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WIGAN WARRIORS v WIDNES VIKINGS

Friday 8pm
This pundit reckons Wigan are head and shoulders above the rest in Super League. Time should bear this out. After all, they won the Grand Final with half their squad last term and all bar Dom Manfredi will be available this season. Joe Burgess is inarguably the best winger in Super League and captain Sean O’Loughlin is fit again. It is also a major boost to have Tommy Leulaui, one of the best halves in the league, returning. His partnership with George Williams is already blossoming. With the strongest pack, they should go all the way again. Or as near as damn it.
Really, it was not a surprise that they were crowned World Champions after beating the NRL’s Cronulla Sharks 22-6. It was their fourth WWC title and Shaun Wane’s men never looked in danger at any moment.
Widnes come into this one on the back of a 28-16 home loss to Huddersfield and they now face three sides from last season’s top six. Dennis Betts’ boys already look as though they have a mountain to climb. Widnes are struggling for a decent half-back pairing at present and their weakened pack could be exposed. Often.
This one should not be close. Take Wigan to cover.
VERDICT: WIGAN TO WIN AND COVER


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MCB EXCLUSIVE – The Friday Trio – your three sporting tips for today

You already know that your club betting service gives you more than any other high street bookie: We give your club free kit and equipment – plus we give back 20% of revenues!

And now we’ll attempt to find three bets each day to stimulate your punting juices.

Here’s our offering for Friday, March 27…

Rugby League: Hull KR v St Helens

Mark Flanagan St Helens
Adding experience: Flanagan

This really should not be a closely-contested game. In short, this could be buying money.

St Helens are a class above Hull Kingston Rovers with six rounds of the Super League season played.

Saints are considered eight-point favourites, despite missing Joe Greenwood, their young back row, but Mark Flanagan comes in as an experienced replacement.

Hull KR have not been quick starters in their games this term and that is a concern against a Saints side who have played good defence and who remain unbeaten.

This looks the bet of the day to us, although the odds reflect this.

BET: St Helens to win @ 1.37

Football: England v Lithuania

While there is still a Euro 2016 qualifier to be won, the spotlight will understandably be on Harry Kane, who is set to win his first senior cap, having notched 29 goals for Tottenham this season.

Lithuania hold no fears for Roy Hodgson’s outfit. England have won all four of their Group E games and have conceded one goal.

Lithuania have won two of their four games thus far, but in beating San Marino 2-0 and Estonia 1-0 they achieved little and should be cannon-fodder for the hosts.

With few significant injuries and qualification all but guaranteed, a sell-out Wembley crowd can expect to see Roy Hodgson experiment with an attacking line-up.

Harry Kane is a fair bet to score if making his senior debut and England can roll to a 4-0 or 5-0 success.

BET: England to score in both halves @ 1.59

Trust Thomas

Our last few racing selections have all won, so the pressure is on today and we tackle one of the most competitive races of the afternoon, the Surgo Construction Handicap Chase at Newcastle.

Trust Thomas (3:40), has finished second on his last five starts since landing a novices’ handicap chase on his jumping debut here in November.

He was three-quarters of a length behind Montoya’s Son (who re-opposes today) last time but is 2lb better off. Although he has been tricky to win with, at least you know you are going to get a good run for your money and the odds will be bigger than they perhaps should be.

Bet: Trust Thomas (Newcastle 3.40)

All odds quoted from Creigiau FC‘s betting service creigiuafc.myclubbetting.co.uk

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MCB EXCLUSIVE – The Thursday Trio

You already know that your club betting service gives you more than any other high street bookie: We give your club free kit and equipment – plus we give back 20% of revenues!

And now we’ll attempt to find three bets each day to stimulate your punting juices.

All three tips won on Wednesday!

Here’s our offering for Thursday, March 19…

Rugby League: St Helens v Warrington

James Roby
Happy return: Roby

The European Super League is in its early stages and upsets are possible.

Yet this is unlikely to be the case when St Helens host the Warrington. Wolves have lost just once in Super League so far this season, while top-of-the-table Saints are unbeaten, so it should be an epic scrap.

St Helens have hooker James Roby and prop Kyle Amor back from injury and suspension respectively, but they are still without Jonny Lomax, Mark Percival (out for six weeks with a knee injury), Luke Walsh and Mark Flanagan.

Warrington have no real injury concerns and head coach Tony Smith has named an unchanged 19-man squad from the one that beat Leeds last week.

Warrington won their last two at Langtree Park but although the Saints have a few key men missing, their depth is such that they should be able to overcome their losses. We take them to win.

BET: St Helens to win @ 1.77

Darts Premier League: Raymond van Barneveld v Phil Taylor

Of all the five clashes in the Darts Premier League in Glasgow, this one is arguably the one everyone wants to see.

Phil Taylor is like kryptonite to Raymond van Barneveld. The Power leads the all-time series meetings 51-12-4, an extraordinary run of success against one of the top players in the world.

Reigning Premier League champion van Barneveld has made a poor start to the defence of his title and sits level with Kim Huybrechts in the bottom two in the table, having lost 7-3 to 2009 champion James Wade last week.

Taylor is also coming into this off a loss, having gone down 7-3 to Michael van Gerwen in Nottingham last week.

Van Barneveld was way off his game last week and while Taylor was not 100 per cent with his doubles, he holds an Indian sign over Barney and should get back to winning ways.

BET: Taylor to win

Price is right for Mountain

Mountain King (4:05, Ludlow) looks ready to put what little experience he has over fences to good use in the Wye Valley Brewery Handicap Chase.

Mrs Diana Whateley’s dark and light blue colours have been a familiar sight in the winners’ enclosure this season and the Philip Hobbs-trained six-year-old looks ready to add to the tally.

Mountain King was beaten favourite in a four-runner soft-ground affair at Huntingdon last time, where he was a little too keen and didn’t help himself by making the odd jumping error.

However, he should be better suited to the faster ground at Ludlow and the drop back to two miles looks just what the doctor ordered.

BET: Mountain King (Ludlow 4:05)

All odds quoted from Shoreham FC’s betting service Shorehamfc.myclubbetting.co.uk

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You must be aged 18 or over to bet. Please gamble responsiblywww.gambleaware.co.uk