Warrington Wolves vs Catalan Dragons
Tony Smith's Warrington side managed to salvage a draw against Wigan last weekend, with a late Lee Briers drop goal tying things up at 17 apiece in an epic encounter. The Wolves face another stern test this week as they welcome the Catalan Dragons to the Halliwell Jones on Friday, though Smith does at least have the luxury of a fully fit squad to choose from.
Catalan's overcame the early sending off of Julian Bousquet to beat Salford by 40 points to six at home last week, but that sending off resulted in a four-match ban for the French forward, and they are also missing co-captain Gregory Mounis. Throw in the fact that this is the first time they have faced a top-four side without Scott Dureau this season, and there are plenty of reasons to think that the Dragons are up against it as they bid to maintain their unbeaten record.
There are no new injury concerns or suspensions for Warrington, which means they have all their key players ready for this one, and in a game where there is little to choose between the forwards, it's the Wolves superior halves that should prove the difference.
Bradford Bulls vs Castleford Tigers
The Sky cameras are at Odsal for the first time this season for when Bradford host Castleford Tigers on Saturday evening, and Ian Millward's Cas side are another team that have to make do without their most important playmaker this weekend. Rangi Chase has picked up a two-match ban for his shoulder charge on Zak Hardaker in their 14-12 win over Leeds last Sunday, but Millward has at least moved quickly to somewhat negate that loss with the acquisition of Gareth O'Brien from Warrington.
Both teams have won one and lost one of their opening games and I don't see much between them at all this season. If it wasn't for the bad weather in West Yorkshire during the week then I'd be leaning towards a free-scoring game, but the absence of Chase and the possibility of a poor surface dampen enthusiasm.
In a tightly-matched contest like this one I'm happy to take Castleford with an 8.5 point start.
Hull KR vs Widnes Vikings
Hull KR have met with defeat in both of the opening rounds, but they will fancy their chances of opening their account for the season when they welcome Widnes to Craven Park on Sunday. Scoring points has not been the problem with the Robins so far, but conceding them most certainly has. The shipping of 68 points in just two games highlights that their strengths lay in attack rather than defence for the time being, and I suspect that trend will continue this weekend.
Widnes may not have been free-scoring themselves, but they were well in the hunt against Saints until they were reduced to eleven men, and with conditions expected to be much brighter, they can show they have the capacity to score tries in the right circumstances.
Willie Isa may not be prolific for a winger, but there are big question marks over the defence of Omari Caro, and if he should start on the right flank then Isa would be worthy of strong consideration in the anytime scorer markets.
Back Warrington Wolves -12.5 pts @ 2.0421/20
Back Castleford Tigers +8.5 pts @ 1.9110/11
Back Willie Isa to score at anytime in the the game between Hull KR and Widnes @ 3.02/1