Rhinos to ravage injury-hit Saints
Ian Millward previews the Super League action taking place across Thursday and Friday and brings you his best bet in the NRL.
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London (+24) v Castleford
An interesting scenario here - there were rumours that Cas may rest a few but they've gone with their full squad, notably Justin Carney who will play. London have had a good record in this game but their side doesn't look good in comparison to previous seasons. If we talk about recent form, Cas have won five from six and they've covered the start in five of six, too. They're in good shape and should win convincingly here. However, they've had a lot of games at home and with a lack of atmosphere may just lack in intensity. London's attacking structure does look to be improving, albeit their defence is leaking points but with conditions and home advantage London can stay within the handicap.
Hull v Salford (+6)
The last performance at home from Hull was extremely disappointing - they didn't score a point - and Gareth Ellis is out injured. They're struggling a little bit in the forwards and having opposed them antepost I like Salford here. They don't have a good record in the fixture but the return of Adrian Morley, Rangi Chase and Francis Meli gave them a calming effect last week and they can build momentum by covering the handicap here. I said Hull would struggle for points and I can see that happening once again - so it's Salford to maybe cause an upset.
St Helens (+6) v Leeds
This game would've been a blockbuster if everyone had been fit but, as reflected by the prices, Saints have big injuries. They're missing Luke Walsh, Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Jon Wilkin and the attacking ability of Jordan Turner. Throw in the return of Joel Moon, Jamie Peacock and Kevin Sinfield for Leeds and there can only be one winner - if anything the start is lenient. If Leeds get their share of the ball the likes of Tom Briscoe, Zak Hardaker and Ryan Hall will create momentum. I expect Leeds to win and cover - but this isn't a reflection of what will happen in future, just simply this week's team news.
Wigan v Catalans (+18)
With this game, it's really important that Sean O'Loughlin returns and it's also worth acknowledging the improved form of import Matty Bowen. A new country, new team-mates and different weather means players like this will take time to adjust and we can expect to see more and more from Bowen as the weeks go by. Catalans come off a good win but they have so many key players out and they're struggling to score tries. For that reason Wigan have a great chance to get a good win and score plenty of points.
Sydner Roosters v Manly Sea Eagles (+6)
This a replay of the NRL Grand Final. Manly have a couple of absentees - Jason King certainly and Kieran Foran possibly, while full-back Brett Stewart is out injured still. They've had a lot of physical, tough games and faces a Roosters side full of confidence. Sydney are at close to full strength and can win and cover in a massive game.
Parramatta Eels (+2) v Penrith Panthers
Both teams had highs and lows last week, Penrith winning on the bell and Parramatta conceding a try in the dying seconds. However, Parramatta came back well from their defeat to Roosters and will have learned a lot from that defeat to Manly. Chris Sandow returns from exile and could be the man to lead his side to victory in this local derby.