Hull to provide the Magic
Ian Millward previews the Magic Weekend in Manchester while he picks the best two handicap bets in the NRL.
Catalans v London (+16)
The big news here is the comeback of Scott Dureau who returns for Catalans after an eye injury. He was one of the form half-backs of Super League last season and though he will be rusty, he will improve the Dragons in the coming weeks. London's defence bordered on the verge of schoolboy last week and they could be in for a torrid afternoon here. Catalans will be too big, too strong and too quick. They can win and cover the start.
Verdict: Catalans to cover the start
Castleford (+4) v Wakefield
This looks like being a really close game. Both teams suffer inconsistency and concede a lot of points. It's a local derby so that brings with it it's own pressure and tension. Key for Cas is Rangi Chase's ability to create tries and Wakefield have sorely missed Paul Sykes while Tim Smith has been very inconsistent lately. If he steps up to the mark Wakefield have got a chance. However, I think Wakefield can cover here as their defence has been stronger in some of the tougher games.
Verdict: Wakefield to cover the start
Hull v Hull KR (+8)
Both teams come here off the back of excellent wins. Over the last five weeks Hull have been the better team and they could have some key forwards returning this week. Overall, Hull's defensive efforts have been better in the last few weeks and their overall efforts against Warrington last week was very good. They are in a good place at the moment with Daniel Holdsworth impressing while Gareth Ellis is slowly getting back to his best.
Verdict: Hull to cover the start
St Helens (+8) v Warrington
I would have said Warrington were specials for this fixture a week ago but there are signs that St Helens could make a good fight of it in this one. Saints have all their forwards back while there's big rumours James Roby will return and they're almost back at full strength. Adrian Morley, meanwhile, returns for the Wolves. Warrington's defence has vigour and toughness and they are playing well despite losing last week. They should just have too much for Saints.
Verdict: Warrington to cover the start.
Salford v Widnes (Scratch)
Who knows here? There could be some points in this one with these two defences. Take the overs in the total points market for sure. Widnes have improved but Salford just can't seem to continue a defensive effort for 80 minutes. The Vikings are more consistent but there's little to choose between these two and Salford did have a good win on Magic Weekend last season. I just feel it might be their day again with the return of some key forwards.
Verdict: Salford to win the game
Bradford (+8) v Huddersfield
Bradford have been very consistent against the bottom six, but they get beaten easily by the top six. Huddersfield are in a really good space at the moment and are in really good form. I favour the Giants here, on a quick surface they can win it around the ruck and create plenty of scoring opportunities.
Verdict: Huddersfield to cover the start
Leeds v Wigan
Wigan have been the best team by a mile this season, but they've had a lot of easy games and this will be a tough one. Can they go the whole 12 rounds as they've been knocking teams out early on? I think they can. Jamie Peacock is a massive loss to Leeds, he makes their most carries, metres and tackles so he's a huge loss. Wigan are in super form and over 80 minutes they can be too strong and clinical.
Verdict: Wigan to cover the start
Sydney City Roosters are in super form, averaging 10 points per game against in the NRL, while their opponents this weekend, Melbourne Storm, are averaging 15 points per game against. However, the Storm played well in their last game and Billy Slater and Cameron Smith can step up in this, a huge game. The Roosters are on a roll but I fancy the Storm to pull out a big performance and they can win with the start. Cronulla Sharks take on the leaders of the NRL, the South Sydney Rabittohs, and their Greg Inglis is the form player in the league. However, the Sharks have Paul Gallen and Luke Lewis back and at home with the start they look a decent bet. They have good form at home and the Souths have had some tough games recently.