Warrington look up to the Challenge
Ian Millward previews Saturday's Challenge Cup final and is backing Brett Hodgson to inspire Warrington to victory.
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5pts Warrington (-8) to beat Leeds at evens (sportingbet).
1.5pts Joel Monaghan to score the first try at 9/1 (General).
2.5pts Joel Monaghan to score a try at any time at evens (Ladbrokes).
1pt Brett Hodgson to be man of the match at 7/1 (General).
At the start of the season, my number one pick to win the Challenge Cup were Leeds, and I also liked them very strongly in their semi-final against Wigan.
But over the last month, Warrington have been the best Super League team and the interesting aspect of their form has been the ability of their key players to step up and play after a rest.
Another major factor is Danny McGuire not being available for Leeds, which has forced the introduction of inexperienced 18-year-old Stevie Ward.
In the key areas - at full back with Brett Hodgson and with both Lee Briers and Joel Monaghan - Warrington do outweigh Leeds in terms of experience, overall hardness and quality in games as big as this.
The other issue is that Leeds will rely heavily on Kevin Sinfield and if the Warrington pack dominates the game, he'll have no room to manouevre and launch Leeds attacks through his kicking game, a tactic that has worked so often for the Rhinos.
So, I'm going for the Wolves to win and cover the start.
I also fancy Monaghan to be the first tryscorer, as Warrington should have a lot of the ball and often direct their kicking game to his side of the field.
He's 9/1 to open the scoring and that looks fair, as does the evens offered by Ladbrokes for him to touch down at any stage of the game.
Hodgson looks the one to be on to win the Lance Todd Trophy for a man-of-the-match performance, as he's in terrific form and is very much the key man for the worthy favourites.
If Leeds were to cause an upset and win, at very big odds the aforementioned Ward is worth a saver as his performance could be crucial for Leeds.
Finally, with spreads of around 44.5 in the total points betting there could be some mileage in backing over, as with the talent on display this could be a really high scoring game.
However, we'll stick to what we've got and hope Hodgson can guide Wolves to the title.