We’re five rounds into the 2023 Betfred Super League season and already we’ve seen plenty of developing storylines around the country. Warrington are flying at the top of the table, tied with Catalans who continue a similar pace to recent years, remaining amongst the top of the division and staking a claim for post-season glory. In the remaining spots of the top four are taken by Wigan and Salford, two teams chosen by the Sky Sports overlords for television coverage this week, replacing Wakefield vs Hull KR due to potential cancellations with the pitch disputes at Belle Vue.
Wigan Warriors vs Salford Red Devils
Where: DW Stadium, Wigan
When: Friday 24th March, 8pm
TV: Sky Sports Arena
Wigan’s Last Five: Won 12-14 vs Huddersfield (Round 5), Lost 10-18 vs Catalans (Round 4), Won 0-36 vs Castleford Tigers (Round 3), Won 60-0 vs Wakefield (Round 2), Lost 27-18 vs Hull KR (Round 1)
Salford’s Last Five: Won 14-13 vs Wakefield (Round 5), Won 14-60 vs Hull FC (Round 4), Lost 36-20 vs Warrington (Round 3), Lost 10-24 vs Hull KR (Round 2), Won 10-20 vs Leigh (Round 1)
Betfred Match Winner Odds: Wigan 2/9, Salford 10/3, Tie 22/1
First Try Scorer Odds: Bevan French 11/2, Liam Marshall 6/1, Jai Field 7/1, Ken Sio 11/1, Joe Burgess 12/1
There’s not too many milestones for Salford this week, but Wigan have a trio ready to hit big numbers. Captain Liam Farrell is set to make his 350th career appearance. A key-man in the Warriors’ set-up since 2010, he’s played 326 times for Wigan, with a scattering number of caps for England and Widnes among them to make up the 350.
Winger Liam Marshall is also set to hit 150 games for his career too, including the 22 games he played for Swinton back in 2016. Samoan centre Willie Isa is also hitting 300 career games too, pulling on the Wigan jersey for the 194th time.
Salford 12-30 Wigan (Round 15, 2022)
Wigan 30-24 Salford (Round 10, 2022)
Wigan 20-0 Salford (Challenge Cup Sixth Round, 2022)
Wigan 16-6 Salford (Round 18, 2021)
Salford 16-17 Wigan (Round 7, 2021)
Total Super League Meetings: 55 (47 wins for Wigan, 8 wins for Salford)
Wigan have had a strange start to the season. Huge wins against Wakefield and Castleford have been undermined by poor performances against Hull KR and Catalans. Harry Smith’s kicking game could be something that fans point to, but lack of size in the forwards position is a massive threat to Wigan’s chances of silverware this season.
Salford boast the similar sort of wins, also dropping sixty points in a game this season, this time at the MKM Stadium against Hull FC. As pointed out by the Super League’s ‘Catapult Stats Tracker’, the Red Devils’ Shane Wright and reigning Man of Steel Brodie Croft covered the most distance in the league last weekend in their tough golden point win against Wakefield.
Unfortunately for Salford, they’ll be without hooker Andy Ackers for the trip up the East Lancs, but Amir Bourouh was impressive in the RLWC and Chris Atkin can cover the position well also. Wigan remain injury-free from last week's win at Huddersfield, so have named the same 21-man squad.
Sportsman Stat: Wigan have beaten Salford in their last six ties against each other, eight times in the last ten fixtures.
Castleford Tigers vs Warrington Wolves
Where: Mend-a-Hose Jungle, Castleford
When: Friday 23rd March, 8pm
Castleford’s Last Five: Won 14-8 vs Leeds (Round 5), Lost 36-6 vs Huddersfield (Round 4), Lost 0-36 vs Wigan (Round 3), Lost 6-24 vs St Helens (Round 2), Lost 32-30 vs Hull FC (Round 1)
Warrington’s Last Five: Won 38-30 vs Leigh (Round 5), Won 10-18 vs Hull KR (Round 4), Won 36-20 vs Salford (Round 3), Won 16-26 vs Huddersfield (Round 2), Won 42-10 vs Leeds (Round 1)
Betfred Match Winner Odds: Castleford 15/8, Warrington 4/9, Tie 20/1
First Try Scorer Odds: Matty Ashton 11/2, Matt Dufty 6/1, Matty Russell 9/1, Jason Qareqare 9/1, Bureta Faraimo 9/1
Caslteford’s Adam Milner is a game away from hitting 300 career appearances. Warrington’s Ben Currie will reach his 250th career apperance, with Joe Philbin hitting 150 in Wire colours also. Matty Russell could claim his 100th try, however he’d need a hat-trick.
Warrington 18-19 Castleford (Round 25, 2022)
Castleford 35-22 Warrington (Round 19, 2022)
Warrington 34-10 Castleford (Round 2, 2022)
Castleford 24-40 Warrington (Round 25, 2021)
Castleford 35-20 Warrington (Challenge Cup Semi-Final, 2021)
Total Super League Meetings: 66 (26 wins for Castleford, 40 wins for Warrington)
This game could be over within the first twenty minutes. Warrington are the hottest team on the block right now, with tries flying in from every part of the pitch. However, their record against Castleford is severely lacking. Two losses in three last year to the Tigers leaves them perhaps a little bit nervous to face them.
What does go in the Wolves’ favour is the fiasco unfolding in Yorkshire presently. Lee Radford has been gone for a number of weeks now and, despite grabbing their first win against Leeds last time out, Castleford are still a side that are coming to terms with their own mortality.
Only Wakefield have a worse record than them so far this season, a team expected to be firmly stuck in the drop zone, but if they can’t find some form with the stars they have available, the Tigers might be scrapping for survival themselves come September.
Castleford are without Mahe Fonua for this one after he failed a head-injury assessment last week, but Alex Sutcliffe returns to the side. George Lawler is also out with injury, preventing him from reaching his 100th Super League game, with young forward Jacob Hookem replacing him.
Warrington’s Josh Thewlis failed his HIA against Leigh last week, so he will sit out this week’s fixture.
Sportsman Stat: Daryl Powell’s best start to a season was five wins on the bounce with Castleford back in 2014, a record he can break by beating his former club to make it six in six for Warrington.
Wakefield Trinity vs Hull Kingston Rovers
Where: Be Well Support Stadium, Wakefield
When: Friday 24th March, 8pm
Wakefield’s Last Five: Lost 14-13 vs Salford (Round 5), Lost 26-0 vs Leeds (Round 4), Lost 0-8 vs Huddersfield (Round 3), Lost 60-0 vs Wigan (Round 2), Lost 24-38 vs Catalans (Round 1)
Hull KR’s Last Five: Lost 26-12 vs Catalans (Round 5), Lost 10-18 vs Warrington (Round 4), Lost 25-30 vs Leigh (Round 3), Won 10-24 vs Salford (Round 2), Won 27-18 vs Wigan (Round 1)
Betfred Match Winner Odds: Wakefield 6/5, Hull KR 8/11, Tie 16/1
First Try Scorer Odds: Ryan Hall 9/1, Ethan Ryan 9/1, Jorge Taufua 10/1, Louis Senior 11/1, Lee Kershaw 12/1
Wakefield 18-6 Hull KR (Round 25, 2022)
Hull KR 15-10 Wakefield (Round 19, 2022)
Hull KR 32-10 Wakefield (Round 10, 2022)
Hull KR 18-25 Wakefield (Round 21, 2021)
Wakefield 28-12 Hull KR (Round 7, 2021)
Total Super League Meetings: 31 (17 wins for Wakefield, 14 wins for Hull KR)
The Robins find themselves mid-table after a solid start to the season, however things are starting to look a bit turgid over at Craven Park. Willie Peters deserves credit for the wins over Wigan and Salford, but failing to beat Leigh at home was poor. Losses to Warrington and Catalans can be forgiven due to the might both sides are packing this season, but the Robins need to bounce back and continue their good work.
Wakefield have made the worst possible start to the season. After a month, they’ve played five times, lost five times and have been beaten-to-nil three times. With Leigh putting down a marker early and Castleford picking up points last week, it’s looking like it’ll be a long season for Wakefield.
Wakefield are without Liam Hood after he failed a HIA last week and is set to replaced by Wigan loanee Tom Forber. Lee Gaskell and Kevin Proctor also miss out due to injury. Hull KR have quite a few injuries, with Frankie Halton, Dean Hadley and Jordan Abdull all failing HIAs last weekend. Yusuf Aydin and Phoenix Laulu-Togaga’e are doubts but could feature depending on late fitness tests.
*18+ | BeGambleAware | Odds Subject to Change