With two live games on Sky over the weekend, Stuart Jones provides some suggestions for the weekend's action...
Both teams got off to the ideal start in round one, though they were expected to do so, and neither victory told us much we didn't already know about the two sides. Wigan brushed aside a thrown together Salford side with ease, and whilst it was encouraging that their defence wasn't breached during the eight minutes, it's obvious that they will face a much sterner test against this Wire outfit.
I still have my doubts about the quality of replacements brought in over the winter and also the lack of experience amongst the squad. Warrington's half-back partnership of Lee Briers and Richie Myler is much more settled than Matty Smith and Blake Green, and the Warriors pack looks a shade lightweight in comparison to the away side.
Backing Warrington to win in the outright market looks the way to go.
Tim Smith dropped out of the squad to face Bradford on Sunday and the Wildcats were subsequently hammered by 40 points to six by the team that finished a place below them last season. Such a large margin of defeat obviously means that Smiths' absence wasn't the sole reason for defeat, but it was clear for all to see that Wakefield were somewhat devoid of ideas with Matt Wildie and Paul Sykes in the halves.
Smith is reported to be 50/50 to be fit for Saturday, and I'm hoping he makes it as the points line of 45.5 would be a good bet if he does. The Robins fought back from 22-2 down at ht against the Catalans last week, going down by 32 points to 24 in the end. Adamant that KR will be very "overish" this season, Wakefield should find tries easier to come back on Saturday, and KR have an abundance of attacking threats.
Dr Marwan Koukash's takeover may have gone through last week, but whilst he was able to bring in some new faces ahead of facing Wigan on Friday night, they couldn't stop the Reds from slumping to a 42 points to nothing defeat. It's going to take time for Phil Veivers and Graham Lowe to be able to put together a competitive squad and the -26.5 points handicap against the Dragon doesn't really reflect that.
I don't see why the French side are any worse equipped to rack up a score against Salford than Wigan were last week, especially with home advantage. In Leon Pryce, Thomas Bosc and Ian Henderson they have three players that will thrive in an open game, and the Dragons pack looks far too good for what Salford can put together. The handicap looks at least six points too short to me.