Phil Spink returns with his best bets for Friday and Saturday's Super League action and among his fancies is a Warrington tryscorer at tasty odds...
"Huddersfield could be in for a long evening, with the Dragons taken to open their account for the season in style."
Things won't get any easier for the Rhinos
Wigan Warriors vs Leeds Rhinos
Friday February 8, 19:45
Live on Sky Sports Mix
Wigan Warriors and Leeds Rhinos have won eleven of the last twelve Grand Finals between them and both were ushering in new eras as the 2019 Super League kicked off last week. The Warriors were starting with a two-point deduction under new coach Adrian Lam but will have taken plenty of encouragement from their 22-12 defeat at St Helens.
Lam's former team-mate Dave Furner will now know the task he faces if he's to bring silverware back to Leeds after his new-look side put in an underwhelming performance in a 26-6 loss at Warrington. They were just three minutes away from what would have been only their third nilling in the Super League-era, the last time, incidentally, coming against their hosts at the DW Stadium in July 2017. This is the second of four successive games on the road for the Rhinos and only St Helens came away with anything from Wigan in 2018.
The Warriors smashed their opponents 46-8 at home the last time they met back in June, and while it is far too early after just one match to be predicting another Wigan whitewash, the Rhinos look to have it all to do, and the home side, who stick with the same squad as last week, are taken to cover the handicap of ten.
Harvey worth a punt
Warrington Wolves vs Hull KR
Saturday February 9, 15:00
It's back-to-back home games for our ante-post tip Warrington Wolves as they welcome Hull KR to the Halliwell Jones on Saturday afternoon.
Both sides enjoyed victories in Round 1, though in hugely-contrasting circumstances, with Rovers clinching an unlikely success over their city rivals Hull FC with a last-gasp Jimmy Keinhorst try. Prop Ryan Lannon, signed from Salford, could be set for his debut for the red and whites, who will be bidding for just their second win at Warrington in the last decade.
The first bans of the new season were dished out to Ben Westwood and Toby King after Warrington's comfortable win over Leeds. Sita Akauola and Harvey Livett come in for the Wolves and the latter is worth a bet to enhance his fine scoring record. The twenty-two-year-old is emerging as one of the best utility players in the league and has a real eye for the tryline, having scored thirteen times in just twenty-two appearances last season. He's 7/4 to cross in the eighty minutes and, in the hope he starts, that makes more appeal than a wager on the fourteen-handicap, with Rovers sure to be among the points themselves.
Dragons to fire again back on home soil
Catalans Dragons vs Huddersfield Giants
Saturday February 9, 17:00
Live on Sky Sports Arena
Expect plenty of Saturday-televised home wins for the Catalans Dragons again in 2019 and the Challenge Cup heroes can put Huddersfield Giants to the sword in the south of France.
Both sides tasted defeat in Round 1, the Dragons going down 20-4 at the early-pacesetters Castleford, but it was Huddersfield's 34-14 thrashing at home at the hands of Salford that caught the eye. Granted injuries are a big problem for Simon Woolford's Giants, but much better was expected against a side tipped for a relegation-battle and things don't get any easier with a trip over the Channel. Aaron Murphy is a welcome returnee but they are still missing upwards of six recognised first-teamers.
David Mead, who tormented the Giants last season, is the only absentee from last week's Dragons squad, who seem sure to improve and could welcome back the influential Michael McIllorum. Huddersfield have a better record than many in Perpignan over the years, but lost on both visits last season, and they could be in for a long evening, with the Dragons taken to open their account for the season in style.