It’s a bumper weekend of Easter Super League action as Castleford look to maintain their 100% home record while Wigan face old foes St Helens in a battle of top versus bottom.
Tigers can remain perfect in the jungle
Third meets fourth at the Mend-a-Hose Jungle on Thursday night with Tigers coach Daryl Powell relishing the chance of taking the bragging rights against their Yorkshire rivals in the perfect curtain-raiser for an Easter weekend packed with Super League action.
The Castleford Tigers, who are yet to taste defeat at home, will be desperate to bounce back from a narrow defeat at the Huddersfield Giants last time out, though Cas coach Powell has been forced to deal with a host of injuries with Matt Cook, Tuoyo Egodo and Grant Millington all dropping out of the squad while Nathan Massey returns after a short lay-off.
Wakefield, who are are enjoying a strong start to the campaign and secured a 30-20 win over Wigan Warriors last week, have re-signed Mason Caton-Brown and the winger goes straight into Chris Chester’s squad for what is sure to be a blood and thunder encounter with no quarter asked or given.
Warriors look to derail Saints juggernaut
There are few games in Rugby League which generate as much excitement as Wigan v St Helens with the rivalry between the two going back years, but this season the two find themselves at opposite ends of the table with the Saints only having lost once all campaign while the Warriors have struggled, winning just three games from 10 fixtures.
St Helens have only been beaten once this season, a surprise defeat at the Catalans Dragons, and they would love nothing more than to add to Wigan’s woes at the DW Stadium on Good Friday as they look to extend their lead at the top of Super League and will benefit from Theo Fages returning to the squad in place of Jack Ashworth.
As for Wigan they welcome back influential skipper Sean O’Loughlin for what will be his 47th derby in Cherry and White while Prop Ben Flower and back-rower Joe Greenwood – a former Saint himself – are recalled by Adrian Lam though hooker Sam Powell is suspended. The Saints won the round one meeting between these two 22-12 at Langtree Park in January and having been well beaten by Wakefield last time out, there is not much to suggest the Wigan Warriors will be able to stop the Saints’ surge.
Giants could be perfect opposition for hungry Rhinos
These two have only managed six wins between them all season and both will be looking to kick-start their campaign when they meet on Saturday night though recent form suggests that neither side has a lot to offer, making this a particularly difficult game to call.
The Leeds Rhinos’ only win so far this season came courtesy of a dramatic bonus-point win over Castleford at Headingley earlier this season but have not registered a victory since with David Furner’s men now sitting bottom of Super League and will need a similar result to overcome a Huddersfield Giants outfit who have blown hot and cold all campaign.
The Giants can take some heart from a narrow victory over Castleford last time out but this is a different prospect, especially in front of a hostile and partisan Leeds crowd who have been desperate for their side to finally get going and it will be interesting to see how one of the most inconsistent sides in Super League deal with the pressure of what is a huge local derby for both sides.
*Odds subject to change