It’s never too early to talk about the play-offs. We might still have 21 rounds of rugby league to go, but points on the board early in the season provides breathing room later on in the season when players are likely to be carrying knocks with the big games coming more frequently.
This week we see Hull KR and Leeds Rhinos do battle, with the Robins enjoying quite a good start to the season, and Leeds bouncing between wins and losses. St Helens also travel to Wakefield Trinity, who’ll likely continue to struggle at the bottom of the table.
Hull KR vs Leeds Rhinos
Where: Sewell Group Craven Park, Hull
When: Friday 31st March 2023, 8pm (GMT)
TV: Sky Sports Arena & Mix
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Hull KR’s Last Five: 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 3), 10-24 Win vs Salford (Round 2)
Leeds’ Last Five: 32-22 Win vs Catalans (Round 6), 14-8 Loss vs Castleford (Round 5), 26-0 Win vs Wakefield (Round 4), 24-25 Win vs St Helens (Round 3), 18-22 Loss vs Hull FC (Round 2)
Betfred Match Winner Odds: Hull KR - 21/20, Leeds - 5/6, Tie - 18/1
First Half Winner Odds: Hull KR - 6/5, Leeds - EVS, Tie - 7/1
Hull KR 20-28 Leeds (Round 23, 2022)
Leeds 12-0 Hull KR (Round 11, 2022)
Leeds 36-12 Hull KR (Round 25, 2021)
Hull KR 26-6 Leeds (Round 4, 2021)
Hull KR 16-41 Leeds (Round 13, 2020)
Total Super League Meetings: 33 (9 for Hull KR, 24 for Leeds inc. play-offs)
Leeds were the main event last weekend on Channel 4, coming from behind to defeat the in-form Catalans Dragon, and they take a similar mantle this week against a team in a similar vein of form, Hull KR.
Willie Peters’ side sees Jordan Abdull, Frankie Halton and Dean Handley returning to the fold, with a trio of players failing head-injury assessments last week. Yusuf Aydin, Phoenix Laulu-Togaga’e and Tom Opacic make way, with Opacic being a big miss after his stellar two-try showing against Wakefield last week. New-boy Corey Hall who made the switch over from Belle Vue this week with Will Dagger heading the other way, isn’t yet added to the squad.
Leeds have a huge returnee in Mikołaj Olędzki after being named in Rohan Smith’s 21-man squad. The England international suffered a shoulder injury towards the end of the season but has now recovered from his operation and is back to help out his squad. He was massive in getting Leeds through to the play-offs and even more vital to their journey to Old Trafford. Luke Hooley is also back in contention for a debut after being returned into the fold.
St Helens vs Wakefield Trinity
Where: Totally Wicked Stadium, St Helens
When: Friday 31st March, 8pm
St Helens’ Last Five: 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), 6-24 Win vs Castleford (Round 2)
Wakefield’s Last Five: 6-24 Loss vs Hull KR (Round 6), 14-13 Loss vs Salford (Round 5), 26-0 Loss vs Leeds (Round 4), 0-8 Loss vs Huddersfield (Round 3), 60-0 Loss vs Wigan (Round 2)
Betfred Match Winner Odds: St Helens - 1/33, Wakefield - 11/1, Tie - 25/1
First Try Scorer Odds: Tommy Makinson - 6/1, Jon Bennison - 7/1, Jack Welsby - 8/1, Tee Ritson - 8/1, Konrad Hurrell - 9/1
A week of few milestones but a big one for Saints’ Jonny Lomax. The 32-year-old stand-off is one game away from reaching 300 appearances in the Red V jersey. His debut came away at Belle Vue back in March 27th, 2009, so it’s a nice coincidence that he hits the big number against the first team he ever faced.
St Helens 18-34 Wakefield (Round 26, 2022)
Wakefield 12-13 St Helens (aet - Round 20, 2022)
St Helens 20-4 Wakefield (Round 3, 2022)
Wakefield 14-30 St Helens (Round 14, 2021)
St Helens 34-6 Wakefield (Round 3, 2021)
Total Super League Meetings: 55 (45 wins for Saints, 10 for Wakefield)
The beacons of Wakefield have been lit, calling for aid. This week, they’ve added two stars to their ranks in the hope of trying to win their first game of the season, as they travel to St Helens. Incoming is Hull KR fullback Will Dagger, who was swapped with Corey Hall, as well as a late short-term loan move for Huddersfield winger Innes Senior. Wakefield have gotten closer to their first win in recent weeks but fell to a late drop goal against Salford and were easily beaten by Hull KR last time out.
The Saints are looking to return to winning ways once more and march back towards the top of the table. In terms of squad availability, Ignatius Paasi is set to miss out due to a knee injury, with the exciting George Delaney expected to take his place in the side after impressing on loan at Swinton. Loose forward Morgan Knowles is returning from suspension and McKenzie Buckley has been named in his first squad. Sione Mata’utia will miss the action after failing a HIA against Huddersfield last week.
Sportsman Stat: In the last 10 seasons, Wakefield have beaten St Helens just three times out of the 25 games played in that time.
*18+ | BeGambleAware | Odds Subject to Change