Leeds Rhinos v London Broncos
Handicap: Leeds -46
Friday’s live action in Super League comes from Headingley in what will surely be a very one sided affair. The bookies certainly think so with Leeds 1/500 favourites to win. Leeds are undefeated in Super League this season, while London have the unwanted record of played 5 lost 5 and they would sit bottom of the table if not for the points deduction applied to the Bradford Bulls.
The Broncos were showing signs of improvement, but then two heavy home defeats to Warrington and Wakefield have really hit their confidence. Their struggles are not surprising as their participation in Super League was in doubt until just a couple of weeks before the start of the season, and coach Tony Rae had very little time to assemble a squad. He has signed a host of players but they all need time to get to grips with each other. London have the worst defence in Super League having conceded 227 points and that is a real worry.
As for Leeds, they have had no such problems in the opening five rounds and they have really hit the ground running. When you look at the international quality in their side, they really should be far too strong for London. The three quarter line at Leeds is star studded, and the fact that last week they could leave out Ryan Hall shows the strength in depth that they have. They are a side that is capable of scoring points, and lots of them.
However, I am a little wary of backing them to cover such a large handicap. While Leeds should score more than 46 points, the problem comes if London sneak a couple of tries then the Rhinos will need to score maybe 60 or 70 points and that is a big ask for any team. As such, I’m looking elsewhere for value in this match and there are two markets in particular that catch my eye. The first is over 6.5 tries in the second half. For this bet to win we need 7 tries to be scored in the second half and with the London defence tiring and Leeds possibly becoming slightly relaxed I think this has an excellent chance. I also expect Leeds to score a lot of tries out wide so the offer of 7/2 for Tom Briscoe to score a hat trick really appeals to me.
If I were you … I’d have a bet on over 6.5 second half tries @ 11/10 (Paddy Power)
If you’re after bigger odds… take a chance on Tom Briscoe to score a hat trick @ 7/2 (William Hill)Saturday Night
Catalan Dragons v Huddersfield Giants
What a start to the season it has been in France. They have lost all five of their games so far, conceding over 200 points in the process. I have mentioned before however that I feel this does not tell the full story. Catalan have been decimated by injuries and suspension and last week they had no fewer than 10 senior players unavailable for the trip to St.Helens. That said however, the statistics don’t lie and their performances have not been good enough. They do have 5 players returning this week and I expect them to turn their form around sooner rather than later and pull clear from the relegation battle, but not in this match. Catalan are the most penalised team in the competition this year, and they must improve their discipline as they can’t afford to give the Giants good field position.
As for Huddersfield they have had a mixed start to the season. Draws with Leeds and Hull Kr have been backed up by victories over Bradford and Wigan. The major shock in their season came when they lost away at Widnes and Paul Anderson is demanding greater consistency from his men. The major problem for most teams when they head to the South of France is matching Catalan’s physicality. However, that should prove no problem for the Giants pack, in fact I think they will revel in the challenge. If they can win the physical battle, Danny Brough and the Huddersfield back line have the ability to pile the points on.
For the second week in a row Huddersfield face a handicap of 14 points and for the second week in a row I think this is an absolute steal. The Giants should win and cover comfortably here.
If I were you … get your money on Huddersfield -14 points @ 10/11
For those of you who like a risk … have a bet on Huddersfield -29 points @16/5