Just when you think you've got the measure of Super League, this season seems to take another turn for the unexpected and pull the rug right out from underneath your feet. An advert for how open and competitive the league has been this year, last season's bottom club Wakefield are well on their way to a top eight finish, while treble-champions Leeds are still rooted to the very foot of the ladder.
Now past the midway point of the regular season, as usual, there's still not as clear an idea of who will finish where. All of the top clubs appear to be able to turn up one week before fading away the next, and the teams most had written off as relegation fodder are standing up to be counted, making each and every fixture as important as the next. With that in mind, here are the best bets for Round 16, where we get to have a crack at expecting the unexpected.
Salford Red Devils vs Wakefield Trinity Wildcats
Friday 27th May, 20:00
Since the club was hit with a - fiercely contested - points deduction for breaching the salary cap, Salford haven't been as at the races as they tended to be at the start of the season. Clearly having a had a little of the wind knocked out of their sails, with the chairman of the club embroiled in a legal dispute with the governing body, there's more than enough distraction around the place to detract from the business on the field.
Wakefield, meanwhile, haven't looked this good in years. Fully focused on their rugby despite an early season change of coach, Chris Chester has reinvigorated what were last season's whipping boys, who only secured their Super League status through a late winner in the Million Pound Game against Bradford last summer. Well on their way to securing a spot in the top half of the split, another win here against a vulnerable Salford side could really go some way to cementing their place on the top table.
Somehow, the odds have Salford favourites for this game, and while that may look to be the case on paper, anyone that's seen Wakefield play of late will be well aware of what great spirits they're in right now. Impossible to bet against, especially at those extended odds, backing Trinity is the only sensible option.
Recommended Bet: Wakefield Trinity Wildcats to beat Salford Red Devils @ 6/5
Hull FC vs St Helens
Saturday 28th May, 15:00
For years now, Hull FC have been described a sleeping giant. With one of the most loyal and passionate fanbases in the country, and regularly boasting some of the most exciting players in the league, for some time now Hull have been in a mid-table slump, rarely hitting the heights expected of a club that size. This year, however, that simply hasn't been the case. Having married passion with skill and consistency, Hull have a never-say-die attitude that has propelled them up the ladder, with their title ambition looking more realistic than ever.
That said, however, nobody does the wounded animal routine quite like St Helens do. With questions being raised over the quality of the squad, ability of coach Kieron Cunningham and whether or not the club have gone backwards under his stewardship, this is usually when people start underestimating their spirit, and get caught cold in response. With something to prove and the bit between their teeth, this could start out closer than many people are expecting, with Saints likely to be fired up by accusation that they're not the team they used to be.
That said, however, Hull have shown their ability to overcome tough opponents, especially at home, so while they might have to leave it a little late, expect them to kick on and win this one with a relative degree of comfort.
Recommended Bet: Hull FC to beat St Helens by 11-20pts @ 5/2
Widnes Vikings vs Huddersfield Giants
Sunday 29th May, 15:00
It seems a long time ago now since Widnes were being backed as the Leicester City of Super League, with the club falling off in spectacular fashion, having failed to win since their early season form was at its most impressive. With teams taking them more seriously, and the form of their key players dropping off, what began as a season of hope for the play-offs looks like ending in a scrap to avoid the bottom four.
That scrap, of course, isn't something Huddersfield are free of themselves, with Widnes one of the clubs the West Yorkshire side will be looking to displace in the top eight as the season draws to a close. Having kicked on in recent weeks and regained their winning mentality, this could be the game of the round, with both teams genuinely desperate for points.
Should this become an arm-wrestle, or an end-to-end exhibition of all out attack, the Giants have the upper hand in both areas, and coach Paul Anderson is likely to have drilled them to within an inch of exhaustion to bring the points home this weekend. It's been a while since Huddersfield have really handed out a beating, and Widnes look like a side ripe for one, so this could get ugly.
Recommended Bet: Huddersfield Giants to beat Widnes Vikings by +13pts @ 7/4