Going away may pay in the Super League
Both Castleford on Friday and Wigan on Saturday face daunting matches away from home in this weekend's live Super League games but their chances of defying the betting odds are better than the prices suggest.
Bradford entertain Castleford at Odsal Stadium and give the visitors a four point start in the main handicap at 10/11. The Tigers shouldn't need those four points and the 6/4 for them to win in the 80 Minutes market looks a steal.
Matt Orford, the Bulls' new Australian half-back, promised that "you won't see a bad performance like you did last Sunday" where they were trounced 38-6 by St Helens but he needs the rest of his team to start playing with him first as he can't conitnue to do it all himself. He scored their only try last week and is backable at 9/4 to score a try at anytime.
Bradford might use that defeat to kick start their season, having also lost their opening match 24-12 to a lively looking Huddersfield, but Cas showed true class in overcoming Leeds and only went down to Warrington last week due to a couple of key errors towards the end of the game so I can't see why they are the underdogs.
Plus they love it on the road. A 100% success rate away from home this season is, granted, misleading but in the last Super League campaign they won a staggering 10 out of 13 away matches compared to a mere 4 victories at the Jungle. Castleford to win all day, which will surely be Bulls coach Steve McNamara's last at the club if they do.
Though I've just said that Castleford's defeat to Warrington last week was down to errors by the Tigers, Tony Smith's Wolves are not to be under-rated and are certainly living up to much of the pre-season hype that Super League XV could be their year. They've got a tough match against Wigan in front of the Sky Sports cameras on Saturday evening.
The betting has Warrington handicapped by four points, the nominal amount for home advantage, and the 10/11 has been snapped up and cut to 4/5 which leads to a bit of a conundrum. It's hard enough to call a game like this, two form sides apparently firing on all cylinders, but now that you can back Wigan (+4) at Even Money that is looking the value bet.
It will be a tight and low scoring game despite both sides having scored heavily in their opening games. Both coaches have got their defences well drilled. Wigan have conceded just one try per game while Warrington nilled Harlequins and let just three in against Castleford.
Wingers Chris Riley for Warrington (10/1 first/last try scorer) and Wigan's Amos Roberts (12/1) may have scored 10 tries between them but this game won't be played down the touchlines but up the middle. Warrington will benefit from the bigger forwards in this respect, especially as both Adrian Morley and Gareth Carvell play having escaped suspension - an advantage that shouldn't be ignored.
The first try of the game, and possibly the result, will more likely come in the exciting battle in the half-back between two of the rising stars of the game. An inspired, jinking run through the tiniest of gaps by either Richie Myler or his counterpart from Wigan, Sam Tomkins, is how I see the deadlock being broken. They can be backed at 12/1 and 14/1 respectively for both first and last try.
How do you split these sides? Warrington have the forwards, the form and the home advantage. In the William Hill Super League podcast (listen by clicking the play button at the top of the page), Barrie McDermott tells us that Wigan have never won at the Halliwell Jones Stadium in seven attempts. That was correct, and still is in competitive matches including a cup semi-final defeat when it was being used as a neutral venue, but the Warriors secured a 20-12 victory there in a friendly the week before the season began. Has the curse been broken? Let's hope the 13 mile journey is a lucky one for the travelling Wigan support.