Improving Rhinos value on the handicap
St Helens vs Leeds Rhinos
Friday February 22, 19:45
Live on Sky Sports Arena
Friday's Sky game is one of the marquee fixtures of the competition as St Helens host the Leeds Rhinos.
Justin Holbrook's Saints are two from two having seen off Wigan 22-12 at home on opening night before toppling a resilient Wakefield 24-18 in Yorkshire a fortnight ago. They had to fight tooth and nail there and the scores were level at 78 minutes before Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook's last-minute try.
Leeds Rhinos have had a tough start and this will be their fourth successive away game, but they arrive on the back of a first win of the season, a dominant 46-14 victory over a previously-unbeaten Salford. Their three close-season NRL signings all impressed, with dynamic centre Konrad Hurrell scoring his first tries in Super League.
Neither side have been forced to make any significant changes to their squads. You get the impression there is a lot more to come from the pictured David Furner's Leeds this year and they've enjoyed their fair share of success on their trips to St Helens since the opening of the Langtree Park stadium, their 28-20 win in March their third victory from their last six visits. They are worth backing on the handicap.
Injury-hit Tigers may not have it too easy in the capital
London Broncos vs Castleford Tigers
Saturday February 23, 17:15
Live on Sky Sports Arena
Castleford Tigers have made the perfect start to the year with wins over Catalans and Hull but have plenty of injuries to contend with as they make the journey to London on Saturday.
Daryl Powell's side put in a cracking second-half defensive display to see off Hull 26-18 a fortnight ago, but lost prop Mitch Clark with a knee injury in the process and he joins fellow first-teamers Mike McMeeken, Oli Holmes, Alex Foster, Ben Roberts, Jamie Ellis and 2017 Man of Steel Luke Gale on the sidelines. Matt Cook could return against his former club in place of Clark, while Grand Final-winner Chris Clarkson has come in on a short-term deal.
An under-strength Tigers will be more than aware of the threat they face in the Capital with the London Broncos having already upset visiting Wakefield in round one. The 4G pitch at Ealing Trailfinders promises to be a real leveller this season and Trinity were blown away as their hosts ran in eight tries for a 42-24 success. Defeats at Salford and Hull KR have quickly brought them back down to earth, though they put in a fine first-half performance against Rovers on Sunday and Danny Ward has once again been able to name an unchanged squad.
The Broncos are 9/2 to stun the 2017 League Leaders' Shield winners, and while that is difficult to see happening, they seem sure to be among the tries, and a sixteen-point start should be good enough to see them cover the handicap.