Giants to slay rudderless Dragons
Our columnist Ian Millward previews this weekend's first three games in Super League plus the best from the NRL.
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Warrington v Wigan (+8) (2000GMT)
The big key to this game is how every coach talks about the spine of the team and Wigan have both Sean O'Loughlin and Michael McIlorum out. For that reason, I just don't think the Warriors will function as well they can and their record with O'Loughlin out is not great. I think Warrington are building slowly and the return of Trent Waterhouse will really improve them with the home advantage also very important. They can can make a statement with Rhys Evans also ready to make an impact in the big games so the Wolves to win and cover.
Leeds v London (+46) (2000GMT)
The Leeds players are getting more confident in their roles. London are proving that they are nowhere near good enough to compete here and I think that the Rhinos will be a top-two outfit. Their whole team outclasses the Broncos but the start is such a lot and for that reason you still have to go with the visitors on the handicap.
Catalan (+14) v Huddersfield (1830GMT)
Life is getting very tough for the hosts with four suspensions, no Scott Dureau and no Ian Henderson. They face a a Huddersfield team that has great size, a great half-back in Danny Brough and a great bench. I still see a great deal more pain for the Dragons against a team that won the league last year and is trying to still prove it is a top-two team. Catalan are rudderless without their key players so the Giants can win and cover.
Wests Tigers (+14) v South Sydney (0845GMT)
The Tigers played the Gold Coast last Sunday in heatwave conditions and now have to back-up. The Souths were so impressive in their first game against the Roosters and then the week after they had a close loss against Manly. They are not an organisation that will have appreciated that defeat and are looked upon as a top-two team. I expect Souths to be too physical in the ruck area and too dominant defensively so they look a good bet to win and cover the start.
North Queensland v NZ Warriors (1005GMT)
The Cowboys were outstanding in their first game against the Raiders and then had a close loss in the derby clash with Brisbane. They return home and I expect it to become a fortress. The Warriors have been loose and lacked consistency and to travel from New Zealand to the hot conditions this week looks a recipe for disaster. They still can't work out how to use Sam Tomkins and their style of play looks very confusing so the Cowboys to win and cover.