THIS weekend?s games will bring us up to the halfway point for the season in Superleague, and we start with what should be two great games on Friday night.
FOUR Friday night games get us started in Round 13 of Superleague this weekend.
HOW will the Superleague clubs cope with their third match in less than ten days? Keep an eye on this weekend?s Round Eleven matches to find out...
CLUBS back up for their second game in four or five days in the second part of the traditional Easter double header weekend, with Round 10 of Superleague to take place across Easter Monday and Tuesday. Players may be a bit sore and a bit tired, so often its the club with the better tactics here that will come out of the weekend with the wins.
SUPERLEAGUE Round 9 games will be played on Thursday and Good Friday, forming the first part of the traditional Easter weekend double headers. Round 10 games will follow on Easter Monday and Tuesday, completing what can be a testing but always interesting weekend for the players, clubs and fans alike.Thursday night's televised match is the much anticipated local derby between Leeds Rhinos and Bradford Bulls at Headingley. In recent weeks Leeds have eclipsed Bradford on the table, and will be hoping for a win to make up for their loss to the Bulls in the 2005 grand final. Bradford will be looking to improve following an unexpected loss to Warrington last start, and to put aside talk that Wigan are looking to poach coach Brian Noble. Friday's televised game is another famous local derby pitting Wigan Warriors against undefeated St Helens at Knowsley Road. Francis Meli has suffered an ankle injury and will not be available for St Helens over the next six weeks, but Jason Cayless returns to the squad following a short illness. Wigan will be hoping for a return to form following the sacking of coach Ian Millward, but under these circumstances an upset seems very unlikely in this top versus bottom clash. In other games on Friday, Warrington Wolves host Salford City Reds in a clash between two teams who are in the top six on the back of some winning form. Les Catalans Dragons travel to London without the services of suspended Alex Chan when they take on the Harlequins. On a high following their conclusive defeat last week of Wigan, Wakefield Trinity Wildcats host Castleford Tigers who will be hoping to recover from last weeks defeat on French soil. And finally Huddersfield Giants will be hoping that a win at home against Hull can keep them in the top six.
AFTER adjourning last week so teams could attend to Challenge Cup duties, Superleague resumes this weekend with some interesting Round 8 clashes. The Friday night televised game comes from KC Stadium where Hull host Leeds Rhinos. It has been a dramatic week at Hull being after knocked out of the Challenge Cup by Bradford and losing the chance to defend their trophy, and losing their coach John Kear, who left by mutual consent after learning that his contract would not be renewed for season 2007. It's anyone's guess as to how these events will effect club morale, but Hull are expecting to welcome back hooker Richard Swain from injury. Leeds have been stronger than Hull so far this season, and especially under these circumstances are more than capable of scoring the away win.In what seems one of the most evenly contested matches this round, the in form Salford Reds host Huddersfield at The Willows. Both teams are coming off strong wins against lower division teams last weekend, and will want to continue their winning form in the league. Huddersfield are capable of matching it with the best sides on their day, but Salford have been this season's surprise package, showing a consistency that has been a long time in the making, and will be favourites at home to edge out the Giants.Also on Friday night, Harlequins make the trip north to face league leaders St Helens at Knowsley Road. St Helens registered a comfortable 56-6 win against lower division Doncaster last week in the Challenge Cup, whilst Harlequins also had an easy victory against French side Toulouse. However the London side will face a much stiffer challenge here, and only the brave would tip them to score an upset win against the undefeated Saints.And to wrap up the night's action Wakefield and Wigan meet for the second week in a row, in a return helping of last weekend's Challenge Cup tie at Belle Vue won by Wigan 32-22. That game was in the balance until the later stages, and so Wakefield will be hoping the insights they gained might help them return to the winners circle. But Wigan will be keen to make the most of the momentum from what for this season has been a rare win for the cherry and whites. Saturday night's televised game comes from Odsal Stadium, where Bradford host Warrington. Hopefully the ground will have recovered from last weekend, where the persistent rain and hail had led to parts of the pitch being in quite poor and boggy conditions. Bradford are coming off a 23-12 win there over Hull, which will have done their Superleague conditioning no harm at all, whilst Warrington went through their paces with a 52-0 win over lower division London Skolars. However the Wolves will have to lift their intensity here if they are to compete with the Bulls over the full 80 minutes.Finally, also on Saturday night Les Catalans play host to Castleford at the Stade Albert Domec in Carcassonne. Catalans recorded a 60-0 win against amateur Challenge Cup opposition, whilst Castleford lost at Widnes, embarrassingly to the team that they had passed in promotion to this season's Superleague. When everything else is equal, it all comes down to the travel, and despite confusion about the home ground arrangements (with this game originally having been planned to be staged in Spain), Les Catalans should be better adjusted and favourites to get the win here.
ROUND 7 of Superleague kicks off with a top six clash between undefeated St Helens and Hull FC. Hull have a good record at home in recent encounters against St Helens, but will be looking to improve on their performances of late if they are to compete in this televised match. St Helens will be without fullback Paul Wellens who suffered a facial injury last weekend.Also on Friday night Bradford host the injury ravaged Wigan side, who have four regular forwards out this week. Wigan look set to include two new midweek player gains in their pack, in Salford's Tim Jonkers and Whitehaven's Oliver Wilkes. Bradford will be without Paul Deacon who has had some minor facial surgery following up his injury from last seasons Tri-Nations.Saturday nights televised game sees Leeds travel down to London to take on Harlequins. Harlequins sprung an upset away win over Hull as well as an away draw against Bradford earlier in the season, but their form in-between has been ordinary. They are also facing injury problems to key players, and should be no match for a near full-strength Leeds side.Also on Saturday, Catalans Dragons host the impressive Salford in Perpignan. Catalans will be full of confidence after recording their first win last week under new coach Mick Potter, and their first win without captain Stacey Jones. Salford have been in good form all season, lost narrowly to Leeds in the closing stages last week and currently sit in fourth spot on the table.In Sunday's matches, Wakefield (who appointed a new chief executive mid week) host Warrington, a game in which both teams will be looking to improve on close losses last start, and grab the two points on offer here. And to close off the round, Castleford (minus the suspended Richard Fa'aoso) host Huddersfield with both sides in good form coming off big wins last weekend.
FOUR games on Friday night make it a big night for Superleague in Round Four! The televised game will be Warrington hosting undefeated St Helens, although the Saints will be without captain Paul Sculthorpe and young forward James Graham who were both suspended last week. Warrington played themselves into form with a comback against Hull last week, and will be looking to consolidate in front of a home crowd. Michael Sullivan can't buy any game time for the Wolves at the moment, so on the day they've got talent. Could be a close one?Also on Friday, Harlequins hope to regiater their first win of the year, but are travelling to Hull who will be desperate to make amends for their poor showing last week. Harlequins almost beat Bradford in their last road trip, so anything's possible. Salford host Wigan, and after coming back to earth against Bradford last week the Reds will be hoping to show their early season form was no fluke. Wigan are fresh off their first win of the year, and will be looking to make it two in a row. And Castleford will hope to test Leeds at Headingley, to follow on from their win against Les Catalans last week. But having lost in a tough encounter against St Helens the Rhinos will be banking on getting back to the winning list here.Saturday's televised game is Wakefield v Huddersfield, a win for either team will keep them with the pack vying for a top six spot. Both teams have shown they have the talent to win games, but consistency is the issue. And finally, Bradford make the trip to the south of France to face Les Catalans, who will be hoping to make the Bulls their next home ground victim...
ROUND Three gets underway on Friday night with three matches that could all easily go either way.Wigan are at home against Huddersfield, hoping to play out 80 minutes this time and get their first win of the season following losses to Catalans and Leeds. However Huddersfield are more than capable of holding their own, having also lost to Leeds but getting a win against Warrington at home last start.In the televised game, St Helens look to measure their early season form against a competitive side when hosting Leeds. Both teams are undefeated so far this season and this is shaping up as an excellent match between two teams that should be near the top all season.There are also two undefeated teams in the last of Friday night?s match-ups, when Bradford host this season?s surprise packet Salford. Bradford struggled at home to get the draw against Harlequins last week, while Salford haven?t put a foot wrong in registering comfortable wins against Warrington and Catalans. Moving to Saturday afternoon, that draw against Bradford should leave Harlequins confident of a good showing at home against winless Wakefield, hoping to keep the crowd numbers ticking through their new shared ground at Twickenham Stoop. While in the televised match that evening, Warrington attempt to get their season started against an undefeated Hull side that aren?t afraid to rack up the points against inferior opposition.There is only one game on Sunday afternoon, when Castleford probably have their best chance at a win so far against the travelling Catalans, who will be without their injured captain Stacey Jones.
ST Helens Chairman Eamonn McManus has spoken publically for the first time since the suspension of coach Ian Millward pending disciplinary proceedings.