Ian Millward's weekend rugby league preview including the Challenge Cup, Super League & NRL

Rugby League
Castleford
Castleford

Our expert Ian Millward previews the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup quarter-finals, Friday night's Betfred Super League game and picks his best NRL bets.

Click here for all the weekend Challenge Cup team news

Recommended bets:


2pts double St Helens (+2) & Melbourne (-4) at 2.82/1 - Saints and the Storm provide the pick of the weekend bets

Challenge Cup 

 

Hull FC (+4) v Castleford - Sunday, 1500 BST (live on BBC One) 


Hull beat Castleford at home in the league fixture earlier in the season - holding on 26-24 having raced into an 18-0 lead. That shows they can hang in there against the Tigers but I still think the visitors are the bet. 

Just look at the stats. Castleford are the best attacking and defensive team in Super League. They score points for fun and will be very focused here. I expect them to be in front at half-time and full-time. They'll just have too much for the hosts.  

Salford v Wakefield (+8) - Thursday, 2000 BST (live on Sky Sports 1) 


These two teams played in round 17 and it resulted in a 34-24 win for Trinity. They raced into a 16-0 lead that day - Salford roared back to go 24-22 up but Wakefield came home the stronger.

Wakefield have won both Super League games between the two clubs this season but the injuries are starting to mount up for Chris Chester's side and they'll certainly miss the strength of David Fifita.

I think Salford will win and cover here. They have been the overachievers of the season so far but of late have lacked intensity in their games and have developed the habit of starting slowly.

However, this game has been a huge focus for Salford - they are looking to bring in a big crowd for it - and I think they're ready to hit top form again. Players like Todd Carney, Michael Dobson and Robert Lui all have astute kicking games and that will be a key factor.

Leeds v Featherstone (+32) - Friday, 2000 BST (live on Sky Sports 3) 


Leeds will win this one - but can they cover the start? Team news will clearly be vitally important and we already know the Rhinos are without Jamie Jones-Buchanan through suspension. 

They could rest a few too but I still think they'll do enough to win this on the coupon. Featherstone are a good Championship side but they are used to playing on a tight ground and the wide-open spaces of Headingley - and the pace in the Leeds ranks - will be their undoing. 

Warrington (+6) v Wigan - Saturday, 1500 BST (live on BBC One)

It's all doom and gloom for Warrington at the moment and that misery could deepen further here. They are under intense pressure and are without captain Chris Hill due to suspension. 

Wigan are struggling too with only one win in seven Super League outings - but they could have six players back including Sean O'Loughlin and Sam Tomkins. They are a different side with O'Loughlin in and with the Wolves leaking points - take the visitors to win and cover.  

Super League 


Huddersfield v St Helens (+2) - Friday, 2000 BST 


Huddersfield have been very good of late - much improved - but I still make St Helens my bet of the weekend.  

Saints have made great strides under new coach Justin Holbrook and have won three of their last four. This is a good opportunity for them to consolidate their spot in the top six. 

They have the second-best defensive record in the competition right now but more importantly, their attack has had more cutting edge of late. A lot of that is down to Johnny Lomax returning and providing speed at full-back. 

The Giants will come out all guns blazing and full of confidence but I think St Helens have enough to weather the storm and run out winners.     

NRL


Storm v Cowboys (+4)


Both of these sides lose key players to next week's Origin fixture for this one but Melbourne can call on the stronger set of forwards. That will prove to be crucial. 

Don't expect many points - go unders on the total line - but with the firepower up front I think the Storm will win and cover with a home crowd to roar them home.  

Sharks v Tigers (+12)


The Premiers face a side who are running equal last here but the Tigers have a good record in this fixture.  

Both have key men on Origin duty - Cronulla have five out - and while I think they will win this - Wests have a great record when receiving a double figure start and can cover with 12.   

Posted at 1126 BST on 15/06/2017 

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