Leeds to conquer Giants
Ian Millward previews the Super League action taking place on Thursday and Friday, with Widnes his strongest fancy.
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Widnes v Salford (+4)
In their last six games, Widnes have won five and Salford just two. So, Widnes have form which reflects how strongly they finished last season.
Jon Clarke's return, plus that of captain Kevin Brown, should make them hard to beat. Salford were under-prepared against London and Wakefield but got away with it, which wasn't the case last week and they could struggle here.
Widnes play up-tempo at home and it won't suit Salford. The home side must be full of confidence after beating Huddersfield and I expect them to win again, especially as their small stature in the forward line is suited to the all-weather pitch.
Salford remain without Rangi Chase and Gareth Hock and I just think they may struggle here away from home, so Widnes to win and cover is the bet.
Huddersfield (+6) v Leeds
Huddersfield's form this year is that for 60 minutes they've been very, very good, but in the last 20 they've lost focus.
Maybe their big players are under-prepared in terms of fitness, maybe they've been taking things for granted, but I've been really impressed with Leeds so Giants need to up their games and last the 80 here.
Against Catalans, Leeds both attacked and defended brilliantly and it was the same against Warrington, where they were so solid defensively. They're playing extremely well at the start of the campaign.
I am slightly worried that Giants could produce over 80 minutes soon and the start is a pretty good one, but on balance it's Leeds to win and cover.
Hull v Bradford (+18)
The big thing for Bradford is disruption not only off the field but the amount of players coming in on loan. It's tough for them.
Hull have been good against St Helens and Warrington but they lack that little bit of quality to put good teams away.
However, this is easier and they are a lot stronger in the forwards than Bradford so Hull should win and cover.
St Helens v Hull KR (+20)
Hull KR are struggling for consistency, especially in their halves, and they've also started to lack presence in their forwards.
They do have experienced front-rowers returning this week but they could be under-done and may not be able to withstand the Saints here.
The home side will sap the energy out of the Hull KR forwards and the likes of Jonny Lomax should get plenty of ball to score. I think they should also cover.