Disappointing yet hardly surprising that the World Club Series delivered another whitewash in favour of our Australian counterparts and so we turn our attention back to Super League.
It’s been a week of dramatics, with the spotlight focusing on Chris Chester’s departure from Hull KR as well as Mitch Garbutt’s controversial two match suspension for assault but for now, we return to the action.
Hull FC Vs Castleford Tigers
The opening match of round three sees two old Yorkshire rivals battle it out at the Kingston Communications Stadium as Hull FC entertain Castleford Tigers.
Jordan Abdull has been named by the Airlie Birds, hoping for his first appearance of the season.
Castleford have an unchanged squad from their heavy win over Wakefield, with Ben Crooks set to face his old side.
Another match between these two set to be a classic though perhaps a decider as both clubs defeated each other twice last season.
Castleford did finish higher last season, though Hull are currently in that frame thus far.
Frank Pritchard, Mark Minichiello, Gareth Ellis and Sika Manu led by example last time and will be key once again.
The Tigers have experienced forwards such as Andy Lynch, Nathan Massey, Oliver Holmes and Grant Millington to match this and can trouble Hull more so than Catalan and Salford attempted to do so.
Both clubs possess an exciting backline also, though Hull do have the edge on Castleford as their backs are superior in strength and speed.
A third win for Hull, but it will be tough.
Prediction: Hull FC 30-22 Castleford Tigers
Wigan Warriors Vs Salford Red Devils
Simultaneously, an all Lancashire affair will begin the weekend as Wigan go against Salford at the DW Stadium.
Michael McIlorum has been replaced by Sam Powell due to the former’s long injury spell.
Meanwhile, for Salford Adam Walne replaces brother Jordan.
Salford are seeking their first ever win at the DW Stadium and perhaps that is very most likely.
Salford will be eager to make it three consecutive victories and continue their rise up the ladder.
Michael Dobson will hope for a win against his former club and his developing halfback partnership with Robert Lui could help make it possible.
Wigan may have suffered a confidence knock after their heavy defeat to Brisbane and with McIlorum sitting out a spell, the mounting pressure may overwhelm the Warriors.
However, Wigan have been known to be quality, even in these times so they seriously can’t be underestimated.
George Williams and Matty Smith will have to resurrect their immaculate form and with a strong forward pack, Wigan will remain as slight favourites.
A close call this time, with Wigan to edge it.
Prediction: Wigan Warriors 28-24 Salford Red Devils
Hull Kingston Rovers Vs St Helens
The sky cameras remain on Humberside for Friday as Hull Kingston Rovers host St Helens.
Albert Kelly and Ben Cockayne were uncertainties for the fixture but have been included nevertheless.
St Helens have named James Roby, who sat out the World Club Series defeat to Sydney Roosters, plus Shannon McDonnell is included against his former team.
St Helens will start as favourites despite their lacklustre run of form; the experience in their squad alone should prevail.
The Robins have made the KC Lightstream Stadium a fortress for the Saints throughout Super League; however, the news of Chris Chester’s departure could cause some unrest.
Kelly will need to be on top form though Travis Burns will be eager to quell his threats.
The forward battle is also crucial, with Alex Walmsley going up against ever-green Dane Tilse as a key battle.
The match itself should be interesting all over the field; however, the Saints should see the fixture home in a bid to return as silverware contenders.
Prediction: Hull Kingston Rovers 18-28 St Helens
Warrington Wolves Vs Wakefield Trinity Wildcats
Last season’s heaviest deficit fixture will renew as Warrington Wolves host Wakefield Trinity Wildcats.
Wakefield will hope to avoid the 80-0 drubbing they suffered last season but they will start as vast underdogs.
Jacob Miller is finding his feet with the Yorkshire club but coming up against Kurt Gidley and Chris Sandow will be a demanding task.
Warrington are in some hot form and are favourites for a third consecutive victory.
Chris Hill and Ashton Sims are a formidable powerhouse and will be the difference.
Wakefield themselves have a strong forward pack; however, confidence remains a factor and Wakefield won’t have enough to mount a serious challenge.
Potentially a spirited effort but Wakefield will fall short.
Prediction: Warrington Wolves 42-16 Wakefield Trinity Wildcats
Catalan Dragons Vs Leeds Rhinos
Onto Saturday and a return to France sees Catalan Dragons against champions Leeds Rhinos.
Both winless and are eager to start their campaigns.
Catalan are slight favourites as they have retained a strong squad, whereas Leeds have lost several to injuries and suspension.
Furthermore, have the Rhinos still recovered following the departures of Kevin Sinfield and Jamie Peacock.
Both teams nevertheless are strong in every position but the Dragons have the edge.
Despite a heavy defeat to Hull FC, the Dragons should bounce back and see out Leeds, Eloi Pelissier being the pivotal player with his exciting stance.
Prediction: Catalan Dragons 32-30 Leeds Rhinos
Huddersfield Giants Vs Widnes Vikings
Rounding off the weekend is the sole Sunday fixture between Huddersfield Giants and Widnes Vikings.
Huddersfield yet to win, whereas Widnes recently conceded their first match.
Not a statistic many will have predicted; however, this makes our sport all so exciting.
Huddersfield are absentees, most notably Danny Brough but Jamie Ellis has been admirable in his absence.
Widnes’ halfback combination of Kevin Brown and Joe Mellor have caused clubs problems and will be a handful for this one.
Though in spite of this talent, Huddersfield will have the advantage as Widnes do struggle for away form.
Their Achilles heel last season will bite them once more, plus Huddersfield still possess a talented team to cause trouble.
Huddersfield to edge it purely based on the factor, though Widnes look set for a decent season and so could easily prove many doubters incorrect.
Prediction: Huddersfield Giants 26-22 Widnes Vikings