Castleford Tigers V Wigan Warriors
Handicap: Castleford +8
What a cracking game this is set to be. Not many people predicted that Castleford would be sitting atop the table through three rounds with a 100 per cent record, but they have been hugely deserving of their start. I doubted whether they could cope post Rangi Chase and often wondered if Liam Finn could cope with the pace of Super League. Both the Tigers and Finn have answered that in style. Today is their first proper challenge, though, as they are facing the reigning champions who are almost at full strength. Make no mistake, though Wigan have had a disrupted campaign so far thanks to their involvement in the World Club Challenge. They are also without skipper Sean O’Loughlin, which is a huge blow. It’s a really tough one to call, so I am going to look away from the match result for value. With the weather forecast set fair and a bumper home crowd expected, this game should provide points. The bookmakers have set the points bar at 52, and I’m keen to get on the plus side of that at even money.
Suggested bet: Over 52 points scored in the game
Wakefield Trinity Wildcats V Catalan Dragons
Handicap: Wakefield -4
A match between two sides looking for their first points of the campaign at the fourth attempt. Catalan have been heavily criticised in the opening three rounds, but I think that has been a little unfair considering the number of injuries and key players they have missing. They have no less than 11 senior players unavailable today. The double loss of both Scott Dureau and Thomas Bosc has cranked up the pressure on the likes of Leon Pryce and Morgan Escare to create point scoring opportunities.
As for Wakefield, they aren’t without their own injury problems but they have made two further signings this week in a bid to bolster their squad and attempt to pull away from the bottom of the table. Wakefield have been light in the front row in recent weeks, so the signing of Nick Scruton from troubled neighbours Bradford is key for me, as it will give them some much needed steel against a Catalan pack that will be typically aggressive.
This game revolves around who can win the physical battle up front. With both sides decimated by injury, I think Wakefield can gain the upper hand and if Jarrod Sammut is allowed time to play near the opposition try line, it could spell trouble for Catalan. Add in Catalan’s woeful away record and the fact that Wakefield have emerged victorious the last two times they have met at the Rapid Solicitors Stadium, and I’m confident Wakefield can win this game and cover the 4 points.
Suggested bet: Wakefield to win and cover the four-point handicap
London Broncos V Warrington Wolves
Handicap: London +34
On paper, this looks like a very one sided affair. Warrington have a host of international stars, while they face a London side which was put together at the last minute and who are still trying to gel. Teams don’t gel overnight, and Tony Rae’s men have a tough job on their hands today.
Warrington have started the season unusually sluggish by their standards. The real difficulty for them has been scoring points. I mentioned this last week and they then proceeded to only score 18 at home to Hull, albeit that was enough to win the game. I think today could be the day that their attack finally clicks into gear.
As for London, after conceding over 100 points in wide margin defeats in their first two games, they produced a spirited performance last time out at Bradford. They had a lot of injury problems and played the second half with no substitutes available. To only lose by 13 points was a massive effort and something that I’m sure they will be looking to build on. However, effort and determination can only get you so far, and I think Warrington will be too powerful up front for the Broncos.
Suggested bet: Warrington to win and cover the handicap
If I were you…
I’d back both Warrington and Wakefield with their handicaps – that pays a healthy 2.64/1
A risky alternative…
Back Castleford and Wigan to produce over 54 points, London and Warrington to produce over 62 points, and Wakefield to beat Catalan Dragons by four points or more. This treble pays 6.63/1
Top value single bet…
Wakefield to be winning at half-time and full-time looks a steal to me at evens