It’s that time of year. The schools are off. The pubs are open. The rugby’s on and the biggest rivalries in rugby league are ready to be renewed. Stepping up first is the Hull derby as Hull FC attempt to get their season back on track with a win against Willie Peters’ Hull KR. Tony Smith faces the side he abandoned last season as head coach of their arch-rivals, and there’ll be no love lost between the two sides.
Following the Hull derby we see the battle between British rugby league’s two most successful sides as world champions St Helens travel to the DW Stadium to take on Matty Peet’s Wigan Warriors.
Hull FC vs Hull Kingston Rovers
Where: MKM Stadium, Hull
When: Friday 7th April (Good Friday), 12:30pm (BST)
TV: Sky Sports Arena
Hull’s Last Five: 34-6 loss vs Warrington (Round 7), 16-24 loss vs Leigh (Round 6), 20-12 loss vs St Helens (Round 5), 14-60 loss vs Salford (Round 4), 38-6 loss vs Catalans (Round 3)
Robins’ Last Five: 20-12 win vs Leeds (Round 7), 6-34 win vs Wakefield (Round 6), 26-12 loss vs Catalans (Round 5), 10-18 loss vs Warrington (Round 4), 25-30 loss vs Leigh (Round 4)
Betfred Match Winner Odds: Hull FC - 21/20, Hull KR - 5/6, Tie - 16/1
First Try Scorer Odds: Adam Swift - 6/1, Ryan Hall - 7/1, Darnell McIntosh - 9/1, Louis Senior - 9/1, Davy Litten - 10/1
Hull FC 4-36 Hull KR (Round 27, 2022)
Hull FC 34-28 Hull KR (Round 18/MW, 2022)
Hull KR 16-4 Hull FC (Round 8, 2022)
Hull FC 23-22 Hull KR (Round 20, 2021)
Hull KR 16-31 Hull FC (Round 19, 2020)
Total Super League Meetings: 43 (23 wins for Hull FC, 20 for Hull KR)
There’s a lot of hatred between these two sides. Derbies in sport are all about the passion of local rivals, opposition fans and players wanting to be the top dog, and there’s no exception for the Hull derby. There’s plenty of talk before the game about whether the Hull derby or the Wigan-Saints derby is the ‘biggest’ in the sport, but days like Good Friday provide ample opportunity for enjoying both.
Tony Smith has named four changes to his 21-man squad after last week’s loss to Warrington, Ligi Sao returns from suspension, Ben McNamara is returning from a shoulder injury, Mitieli Vulikijapani and Jamie Shaul are named also, replacing Andre Savelio, Joe Lovodou, Nick Staveley and Tex Hoy.
There are far fewer changes to Willie Peter’s 21. Tom Opacic returns from a groin injury and Shaun Kenny-Dowall returns after his four-match suspension to captain the club in his sixth Hull derby. The Australian centre has won just once in this fixture in the five attempts so far.
Sportsman Stat: Both teams have scored a try in the first half of a Hull derby in nine of the last ten occasions.
Wigan Warriors vs St Helens
Where: DW Stadium, Wigan
When: Friday 7th April (Good Friday), 3pm (BST)
TV: Sky Sports Arena & Main Event
Wigan’s Last Five: 6-34 win vs Leigh (Round 7), 20-16 win vs Salford (Round 6), 12-14 win vs Huddersfield (Round 5), 10-18 loss vs Catalans (Round 4), 0-36 win vs Castleford (Round 3)
Saints’ Last Five: 38-0 win vs Wakefield (Round 7), 12-14 win vs Huddersfield (Round 6), 20-12 win vs Hull FC (Round 5), 20-12 loss vs Leigh (Round 4), 24-25 loss vs Leeds (Round 3)
Betfred Match Winner Odds: Wigan - 20/21, St Helens - EVS, Tie - 18/1
First Try Scorer Odds: Bevan French - 6/1, Liam Marshall - 13/2, Tommy Makinson - 13/2, Abbas Miski - 9/1, Toby King - 9/1
Milestones: Bevan French is one try away from hitting 100 career tries, 64 and counting at Wigan, 35 at Parramatta Eels.
Wigan 30-10 St Helens (Round 25, 2022)
St Helens 20-18 Wigan (Round 18/MW, 2022)
St Helens 18-20 Wigan (Challenge Cup SF, 2022)
St Helens 22-4 Wigan (Round 8, 2022)
Wigan 2-26 St Helens (Round 20, 2021)
Total Super League Meetings: 89 (39 wins for Wigan, 46 wins for St Helens, 4 draws)
Matty Peet makes three changes to his squad for this one. Jai Field, Cade Cust and Willie Isa sit this one out through injury and suspension, with Iain Thornley and Tom Forber being added to the squad after returning from loan at Barrow and Wakefield respectively. Junior Nsemba has also been added to the squad.
Paul Wellens has confirmed the return of Sione Mata’utia, Jake Wingfield and Agnatius Paasi to his squad. Alex Walmsley misses out due to injury this week for the Saints.
The Wigan-Saints derby took place four times last season, with the great fixture playing out explosively every time. Wigan took wins at home late on in the season, as well as winning at Elland Road to confirm their spot in the Betfred Challenge Cup final. Saints took the Magic Weekend fixture in a dramatic affair, as well as the Good Friday game last year.
Wigan will no doubt struggle offensively without superstar fullback-turned-halfback Jai Field, so much of the playmaking will fall on the shoulders of Harry Smith, who’s created 10 tries so far this season. Saints are fortunately seeing senior players like Wingfield and Mata’utia return to the squad, as well as the likes of Konrad Hurrell putting in stellar performances as of late. Anything can happen in these derby fixtures, but the world champions just look a bit stronger at the moment.
Sportsman Stat: Wigan have beaten St Helens at the DW Stadium just once in their last four attempts, with an aggregate score of 48-86.
18+ | Please Gamble Responsibly.