FOUR games down, THREE to go in the Super 8’s and the all important top 4 has taken shape with St. Helens’ now 6 points clear of the Catalans Dragons who lie 5th. Hull FC claimed the Challenge Cup last week in dramatic fashion, after coming back from 10 points down to win 12-10 meaning that they are now still on course to complete a remarkable treble. The pilgrimage to Wembley is done for another year, leaving just the Grand Final spectacle left, and with just three fixtures remaining before the final four battle it out, who do you think is going to come out on top at Old Trafford?
The Challenge Cup winners have had a fantastic season and will be aiming to emulate Leeds’ feat of 2015 by winning the treble. The platform for this incredible season was set in the off season after a plethora of great signings such as Scott Taylor, Carlos Tuimavave, Mahe Fonua, Sika Manu in addition to the talismanic Frank Pritchard. Despite this high turnover of players, the squad has gelled excellently under Lee Radford’s stewardship and they very much remain the team to beat this year. Danny Houghton remains ever present as he is far and away the top tackler in Super League, an award that surely one day will be named after him. Marc Sneyd’s kicking game has also been crucial, as the current top goal scorer and joint top for 40/20s, the Scrum Half could play a pivotal role in Hull’s bid for Grand Final glory, particularly after picking up the Lance Todd trophy. The doubts over Hull’s ability to win the Grand Final centre around the Black and Whites lack of big game experience as a squad, especially in comparison to the likes of Wigan and St. Helens but their Challenge Cup glory will allay some of these fears.
To back Hull FC to win the Grand Final @ 3.75 (11/4) Click here
Despite the Wembley heartache, Warrington bounced back with an impressive win in the South of France to claim the League Leaders spot, a point clear of the East Yorkshire side that defeated them in the capital last weekend. The two sides face up in the final round of the Super 8s, in a clash that could potentially decide who lifts the League Leaders Shield, with this fixture potentially becoming notorious, as the Grand Final is widely tipped to be the current top two battling it out again. Chris Sandow has made a huge difference to the Wolves in his first full season, with Warrington only losing 3 of the 20 Super League games he has featured in compared to 4 losses in the 6 games that he was absent for. If he can stay fit for this business end of the season, there’s no limit to what Warrington can achieve. Ben Currie has improved yet again and as the highest scoring forward in Super League, with 16 tries this campaign, he has surely cemented his place in the Super League dream team after narrowly missing out in 2015. Fellow forward and club captain Chris Hill is Super League’s top metre maker, leading by example and setting a great platform for the playmaking abilities of Sandow, Gidley and Ratchford. Warrington lost back to back Grand Finals in 2012 and 2013 so they’ll be hoping to make it third time lucky if they reach Old Trafford this time round. It’s infamously always their year but 2016 might just be.
Warrington to overcome their previous Grand Final misery @ 3.25 (9/4) Click here
Wigan’s 2016 has been far from predictable, seen in recent fixtures as they lost last time out to Widnes despite them drubbing local rivals St. Helens 25-0 in the round before, which was particularly noteworthy as they brought to a halt 7 straight wins for the Saints. Wigan’s hopes of Grand Final glory currently rely on their big game experience and their desire to make right their previous two visits to Old Trafford. Last winning the Grand Final 30-16 against Warrington in 2013, Wigan were denied in 2014 by local rivals St. Helens and then in 2015 by familiar foes, the Leeds Rhinos. Wigan’s campaign has been dogged by injuries and inconsistency for a team of their ability, exemplified by their 62-0 loss away to Wakefield where they had 10 first team players missing and weren’t helped by not being able to train all week due to a virus. Such performances are a million miles away from what you expect from the Wigan Warriors and so the question marks over Wigan’s bid for Grand Final glory is simply, which Wigan side turns up? Yet, as it so often does in an injury crisis, Wigan’s academy has stepped up, showcasing the ever impressive conveyor belt of talent present at the DW Stadium. Oliver Gildart epitomises the Wigan ethos and deserves a special mention for filling in superbly as a utility back, he’s now covering for the impressive Dom Manfredi whose season is now sadly over. The very nature of the play-offs gives hope to the likes of Wigan and Saints as they know that after a disappointing campaign they only need to turn up for two games this season. Wigan have never been a side to be taken lightly and it wouldn’t be uncharacteristic of them to be lifting the trophy at Old Trafford come October the 8th.
Third time lucky for cherry and whites @ 3.50 (5/2) Click here
The Saints will be hoping that Eddie Hemming’s infamous “never write off the Saints” will come to fruition this year after 7 straight wins got their season back on track before being nilled at Wigan. Friday’s victory over a Wembley weary Hull FC got the Saints back on track and has all but sealed their place in the play-offs. A strong core still remains from their 2014 Grand Final victory with experienced heads such as James Roby and Jon Wilkin ever present, which could prove vital when it comes to game management in big fixtures. Luke Walsh has been a creative force as ever for the Saints, coming up with 22 try assists in 20 Super League games, that has been crucial particularly since Travis Burns left for the Leigh Centurions. James Roby’s industrious work is at the heart of what the Saints do and a couple of big performances from him could lead the Saints to glory, so far this season he has made the most runs from dummy half in Super League, which comes as no surprise after also doing so in 2015 and 2014, in addition to being the third highest tackler.
Saints good form to get them over the line @ 4.33 (10/3) Click here