In a sport where we pride ourselves on how competitive the league can be, last night wasn't a great advert. With both Huddersfield and Leeds crumbling under fantastic attacking rugby from both Hull and Castleford respectively, it was a show of just how dangerous this game can be when played at pace, with invention and desire in the final third. Cas have set the early season tempo, but there's plenty of teams on their heels, with an awful lot of rugby to go between now and the end of the season.
Backing more of the same for this round though, you'll notice a trend of big scores this week, with some sides slower off the mark than others. With chemistry such an important factor in how well a team will start, those who've lost key men or made drastic changes are usually in for a tough start, but do come in to form down the business end of the year. That said though, here are the best bets for Round Three.
- St Helens vs Wakefield Trinity
Friday 3rd March, 20:00
Live on Sky Sports
Having been disappointing in their away loss to Leigh last time out, Saints will want to bounce back in convincing manner at home. Simply overrun in the opening exchanges and unable to stop the Centurions once they'd gathered momentum, St Helens left themselves too much to do in the second half, despite coming back in to the game as it drew to a close. Kieron Cunningham won't allow for a repeat performance, and the home side will have been drilled hard in training over the past week.
Wakefield, meanwhile, seem to be settling quite well. Chris Chester is allowing them to test their arm and play more expansively, while there are a few teething issues as the newer players adapt to their partnerships and attacking systems. Unlucky to fade against Huddersfield and lose in a game where they'd played so well, they'll know they have the pace and guile to hurt Saints if they're given too much time and space with the ball.
Both sides will be on the attack, so this could be quite the high scoring encounter. With the over set so low on the number of total home tries, that seems like a good place to go.
Recommended Bet: St Helens to score over 4.5 tries @ 11/10
- Wigan Warriors vs Leigh Centurions
Friday 3rd March, 20:00
There was yet another scare for the Warriors away last time out, with their last minute rescheduled game against Widnes looking to backfire as the home side led late on. A desperate break in the final exchanges handed them what for a long while looked to be an unlikely victory, while coach Shaun Wane won't be blind to the fact that they've been run close both times they've ventured away from the DW so far this season.
Leigh will have been delighted with the way they took their chances against Saints last time out, and they suddenly looked like the side that danced through the Championship at times last season. They wasted good field position the week before against Leeds and it cost them, but better line speed and intent was the secret to blowing Saints away, despite the away side testing their nerve late on.
Wigan are fantastic at home, and don't often lose on that surface. With plenty of room to play with and a few high scores already posted this round, they'll want to replicate the pace and intensity that did for Cronulla in the World Club Challenge, and that could lead to somewhat of a one-sided arrangement.
Recommended Bet: Total tries scored over 7.5 @ 11/10
- Catalan Dragons vs Widnes Vikings
Saturday 4th March, 17:00
Live on Sky Sports
There was a question mark over whether or not Catalan would be able to hit the ground running after making so many changes to their squad over the off-season, but with the likes of Myler, Bird and Broughton stepping up, that transition has been far less painful that expected. They're a better team at home than away, and will see Widnes as an opportunity to stretch their legs, test their offence and run up their points difference.
We backed Widnes to finish dead last and, so far, that looks quite likely. A slow start to the year punctuated by losses in both the transfer window and to injury have cost them dearly, and the games aren't getting any easier. This away game is as tough as they come, especially against a side playing so well, with such lofty ambitions. This was always billed as a year of rebuilding for the Vikings, and this could be a long afternoon if the Dragons get a roll on early.
Jodie Broughton is a lethal winger and more often than not the focus of this slick Catalan attack. Should they get going, he'll be in with the chance to grab himself a try or two for certain.
Recommended Bet: Jodie Broughton to score two tries or more @ 15/2