League's best to set up Grand Final

  • By: Ian Millward
  • Last Updated: September 28 2012, 19:03 BST

Our expert Ian Millward previews the semi-finals of the Super League plus the NRL Grand Final.

Ben Westwood: Could be key for Warrington

SUPER LEAGUE

Friday

Wigan v Leeds (+12)

Everyone's waiting for the Leeds fairytale ending again as they march towards the Grand Final but Danny McGuire is a big loss. They've been very brave in recent weeks but for me the run ends here.

Wigan will be too powerful and I expect them to start with a massive rush and accumulate points early. The Warriors are chasing revenge for a Challenge Cup semi-final defeat and will be too fresh for the visitors. Leeds don't have a great record at the DW Stadium and it all points to Wigan winning and covering.

Saturday

St Helens (+2) v Warrington

With Gareth Carvell and Ben Westwood having big chances of playing, things look brighter for the Wolves. I was very impressed with them for an hour against Hull last week as they raced into a 24-0 lead before their intensity dropped off but that can happen in play-offs. It's just a case of getting through, not how far you win by.

For me St Helens may struggle in the kicking department here. They beat Warrington in the first round of the play-offs but the Wolves' ball retention was very poor that day and if they improve that they can win and book a Grand Final berth.

NRL

Sunday

Canterbury Bulldogs (+2) v Melbourne Storm

James Graham and Gareth Widdop provide British interest in a fascinating NRL Grand Final. These are two fine sides; the Bulldogs have won 15 of their last 17 games and the Storm seven in a row. They've won game apiece against each other in the regular season too.

They are very even, the two best and the two most disciplined teams in Australia. The Storm have had a less taxing preparation for this game and I take them to win and cover. They are very strong in the halves and at hooker with Billy Slater, Cooper Cronk and Cameron Smith. No team has won a Grand Final since 1977 with two half-backs who haven't played international rugby and that stat is against the Bulldogs.

I expect this to be a tense, low-scoring game but anyone looking for a first tryscorer bet I'd suggest Billy Slater as Melbourne usually start a game very strongly


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