Saints to rise to derby challenge
Ian Millward previews Thursday's and Friday's games in Super League as well as the feature weekend matches in the NRL.
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In England, Ian fancies St Helens in the big derby clash at Wigan as well as Huddersfield, who travel over the Pennines to Salford.
Meanwhile, in the NRL, Sydney Roosters and St George are two to keep on the right side of this weekend.
Wigan v St Helens (+8)
I've been involved in this derby fixture several times and it's a massive game, one of the best. In the last 10 derby games at Wigan it's 7-3 in St Helens' favour but this Wigan team defends well and last week took nothing out of them. Saints have Jonny Lomax back and he's try machine. It's a tough one to call. I like the way Wigan are playing and defending but St Helens can lift themselves for this fixture once again and I think they could sneak a win. Traditionally these are tight games - the highest winning margin in the last five between these two is 10. With that in mind, Saints look a great bet on the handicap.
Verdict: St Helens can win this game, so back them with the start.
Hull v Hull KR (+4)
Daniel Holdsworth is out for Hull and his kicking game is so influential he'll be missed. Hull just haven't been able to establish a halves partnership and that can let Hull KR get a real foothold in the game. Michael Dobson's kicking game is outstanding for the Robins and in the last 10 meetings at Hull's ground it's five-a-piece. With the start, I'd have to favour Hull KR, who will take confidence from last week's tight win and Hull haven't been able to come up with seven and six which is vital.
Verdict: Hull KR with the start.
Salford v Huddersfield (+16)
Brian Smith could be flying in from Australia to watch game so the message to Salford is: be on your best behaviour the new coach may be here! The Giants come here off a big loss to Warrington in heavy conditions, where they conceded big points and were disappointing. Meanwhile, Salford might've improved a little after their close loss to the Saints. However, I fancy the Giants to hit back here. They have good-sized forwards and Salford are struggling a little with injuries.
Verdict: Huddersfield to win and cover.
Widnes (+18) v Warrington
Widnes are a completely different team at home where they seem to defend and attack better. Last week they conceded plenty away and that's not a good confidence boost ahead of the visit of Warrington. The Wolves were very classy in heavy conditions against Huddersfield and the last twice they've faced Widnes away Warrington have won by 38 and 40. If they turn up playing their best they will cover 18, and I'll trust them to turn up playing their best.
Verdict: Warrington to win and cover.
Manly v Wests (+8)
Manly had a close loss away from home last week but they play structured and organised and are one of the better teams in the NRL. The Wests, on the other hand, score plenty but they concede. They haven't played a team as tough as Manly and the Sea Eagles can put them to the sword here.
Verdict: Manly to win and cover.
Cronulla v St George (+10)
Cronulla are the best team, they are playing better and they're at home. St George have not won in NRL so far. But, this is a local derby, both teams will rise to atmosphere and I think the Dragons can cause a shock. They can't get any worse and with the start as big as it is they're worth siding with.
Verdict: St George with the start.
Sydney City Roosters v Parramatta Eels (+8)
The Roosters have not clicked into gear attacking-wise but they are winning and if they click against the Eels it could be a long game for the visitors. I think they can and with plenty of points on the board the Eels don't have the tools to scupper the handicap bet.
Verdict: Roosters to win and cover.