Wigan Warriors to show final class
Ian Millward previews the Tetley's Challenge Cup final and fancies Wigan to win and cover while he fancies an NRL double too.
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The first thing that makes me wary of Wigan is their poor form going into this game. They've lost their last two and obviously their win ratio over the last month isn't what we've come to expect.
Conversely, Hull have won their last four so the prices have changed quite dramatically since these two set up what looks a fascinating final.
Finals are won in three key areas. Firstly, forwards, and there's nothing between the sides in that department. Likewise kicking, the second key department.
But the third is in key playmaker roles which make a team function in attack and organised in defence, and here's where Wigan have the definite edge.
Full back Sam Tomkins is the game's outstanding player, Sean O'Loughlin is way above the quality of his Hull equivalent, and obviously the two Wigan hookers are both outstanding contributors.
So at 1, 6, 7, 13 and 9, Wigan are in front and that's why they should have better creativity and composure in the game's decisive moments.
Proof of this creativity advantage can be found in the stats where Wigan score close to six tries per game to Hull's four.
They are very similar in metres covered per game, Wigan play a more disciplined style - I believe they'll use less energy and be better equipped to deal with pressure situations.
With all of this in mind, despite their current form expect Wigan to win and cover what looks a fair start.
In terms of the first tryscorer I believe the high percentage call is for either Pat Richards, the best catcher of a ball in Super League, or Josh Charnley, who is the best finisher.
Charnley's stats are incredible - he's scored 98 tries in 90 games and he's scored one in each of the last four - but such is Richards' aerial threat I think the best thing to do is to split stakes on these two.
As for man of the match, for me it would look to rest between Tomkins and O'Loughlin. The latter was man of the match in the semis but Tomkins is the best player on the field, with the ability to create and finish off opportunities
The other to mention is Liam Farrell who could cause a lot of problems on the left-hand side of the attack but picking between the first two is the way to go.
Matty Smith has a habit of dropping field goals and there could also be good value in backing a drop goal in the game at around the 3/1 mark, while as for the total points these are two sides who are exceptional in defence but I can see there being a lot of points towards the end of the game so over 45.5 is the call.
Cowboys' have been on a winning streak since sacking their coach but one defeat would see them miss the play-offs so the pressure is on.
Newcastle are experienced and they're building momentum as well, and they may be able to trip up the Cowboys here.
Raiders sacked their coach during the week and all as a result of player power.
Manly come into this off a loss although in all truth they are the better team.
However, the Canberra players need to stand up and justify why they went to the board and asked for their coach to be sacked and I'll take them to do so.