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 Thursday 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.

Two out of three again on Wednesday. Must try harder!

Here’s our offering for Thursday, March 26…

Rugby League: Salford v Widnes

Danny Tickle
Missing: Danny Tickle

Two wins, a draw and three defeats. Those are the numbers that both these side possess heading into their Super League round seven clash on Thursday evening.

Widnes gained their second win with a 20-16 win over Hull KR last week, while Salford fell to a disappointing 30-16 defeat at Castleford.

The Vikings have suffered a major setback with the loss of injured Danny Tickle. He played in 30 of the Vikings’ 32 league and cup matches in 2014 and has been an ever-present so far this season, but is ruled out. The goal-kicking forward will undergo groin surgery and misses the busy Easter period.

Widnes also be without Tickle’s second-row partner Danny Galea for the game against the Red Devils after he was concussed in Sunday’s 20-16 win over Hull KR, while winger Patrick Ah Van is out for an indefinite period after failing to recover from a head knock.

Salford will be without half-back Theo Fages. The France international admitted a grade C charge of making dangerous contact on Castleford hooker Adam Milner during the Red Devils’ defeat by the Tigers and has accepted a two-game ban.

Widnes won five of last eight meetings but are underdogs for the televised clash.

However, they have a fair record at the AJ Bell Stadium and Salford made plenty of defensive mistakes at Castleford. In spite of the injuries, we reckon the Vikings might well upset the odds.

BET: Widnes to win @ 3.0

Tennis: Marcos Baghdatis v Simone Bolelli

The Miami Open continues today and we are looking at a first-round upset.

Simone Bolelli, ranked 47 in the world, has one verdict over Cypriot Marcos Baghdatis, whom he defeated in three sets in the French Open, albeit seven years ago.

Baghdatis, who is ranked 58, reached the quarter-final of the Irving Challenger event last week, losing to Aljaz Bedene in straight sets, having lost to Novak Djokovic at Indian Wells the week before.

He is a short price at 1.80 to beat Bolelli, who has struggled for form in recent weeks, since making the quarter-final in Marseille.

However, there is no disgrace in being defeated by Tomas Berdych (Dubai) and Milos Raonic (Indian Wells) subsequently.

We see this clash as a pick ‘em. The odds-makers see this as an easy passage to round two for Baghdatis.

The value, therefore, appears to lie with the Italian.

BET: Bolelli to win at 2.02

Racing: Devil in the detail

We go to Ffos Las in search of a winner this aftern0on, where Red Devil Lads (3:15) can account for six rivals in the 3m handicap chase.

On the face of it, Rebecca Curtis’s six-year-old has plenty to do, despite winning two of his last three, the latter success coming in limited company at Exeter earlier this month.

He was able to dominate, despite jumping left at times, and is still learning over the bigger obstacles. This flat track should suit and the small field will give him time to get organised over his fences.

Veteran Paddy the Oscar, a winner of two of his last three outings, takes a hike in the weights and though lightly-raced for a 12-year-old, soft ground is crucial to his chance. He rates the biggest danger.

BET: Red Devil Lads (3:15 Ffos Las)

All odds quoted from Cefn Fforest AFC’s betting service cefnfforestafc.myclubbetting.co.uk are subject to change.

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