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Superleague Round 25 Preview
Four rounds left to play, but next weekend will be a rest for everyone except St Helens and Huddersfield who are contesting the Challenge Cup final. So teams will be going all out this weekend to climb a notch on the ladder before regrouping for their final chance to make this season count ? or to fight for their Superleague survival? game on!
Friday: Wigan v Huddersfield
Wigan can?t afford to drop a game in their ongoing quest to avoid relegation, and this match against Huddersfield is one they would be counting on for as an easier win ? if such a thing exists? Huddersfield have had a hot and cold season and now sit four points outside of sixth place and a play-off berth. The Giants have announced the signing of Shane Elford for next season, but could be excused for having one eye on next week?s Challenge Cup Final against St Helens. Brad Drew and Chris Thorman are out for the Giants, with Tom Hemmingway and Bolu Fagborun called into the squad. Wigan squad unchanged from last week?s win over Leeds, Brett Dallas still out through injury.
Friday: Wakefield v Leeds at Atlantic Solutions Stadium? televised
Meanwhile, Eddie and Stevo will be bringing us the next episode of Wakefield?s quest to avoid relegation when they take on a vulnerable Leeds Rhinos. The Wildcats have been revitalised under new coach John Kear, who earlier in the season left his position at Hull. Without Monty Betham and Ned Catic they managed a win over Catalans last week, and will be hoping to do the same against a Rhinos side that has lost it?s last five on the trot and is still without the injured Danny Maguire. Willie Poching is called back into the Leeds squad along with Chris Feather and Nick Scruton, while French halfback Maxime Gresque may get some game time for Wakefield.
Friday: Bradford v Castleford at Grattan Stadium
Also on Friday night, Castleford will want to make sure they stay one point above the danger zone with a win over Bradford, and will be helped by the return of first choice halves combination Peter Lupton and Danny Brough. But after losing 72-4 last week against St Helens, the Tigers will need a big turn around to match it with the Bulls. Bradford have their own worries though, having been docked two points in relation to a breach of last season?s salary cap, and having been surprise losers against Harlequins last week. For Bradford Terry Newtown is out through injury, with Matt Cook and Karl Pryce returning to the squad.
Saturday: Warrington v Harlequins ? televised
Mark McLinden rejoins a victorious Harlequins squad which looks to get within one point of sixth place and a play-off berth should they beat Warrington here. Joe Mbu and Zeb Luisi are also available for the first time in a month, and the London-based club has announced the signing of Scott Hill for next season. Warrington went down narrowly to Salford last week, and with new England coach Paul Cullen in charge should know that a win here virtually makes certain they?ll feature in the finals. Will that be enough motivation for the Wolves to beat the Harlequins? This could be the game with the most at stake this weekend.
Sunday: Catalans v St Helens
The French side are now alone at the bottom of the Superleague table, and without the threat of relegation to spur them on may not make up any ground on their rivals. St Helens however are giving them the best chance by naming a squad with up to nine players set to make their Superleague debut while they rest their stars ahead of next week?s Challenge Cup final. In Trent Hodgkinson they have even named a 36 year old hooker who has not played first grade for 12 years! How will the Dragons react to playing Saints reserve team? They will be without Renaud Guigue and Pascal Jampy, but Thomas Bosc and Laurent Frayssinous are available again.
Sunday: Hull v Salford
Second placed Hull look to score an important win over play-off rivals Salford, and should have centre Kirk Yeaman to help them. Yeaman has been injured for two months but was scoring more than a try a game before injury. Hull prop Paul King is suspended for this match, following a dangerous throw. Not much news from Salford this week, but they?ll be hoping to build on their one point win over Warrington and catch the Hull side on the hop in this one.