Wigan the value in Good Friday showdown.
Is Super League currently in the midst of a changing of the guard from Wigan to St Helens?
Well, we should be a lot closer to knowing the answer to that question after tomorrow’s Good Friday Derby at Langtree Park.
The two ancient rivals from adjoining industrial Lancashire towns enjoy a rivalry which is as fierce as any on the British sporting landscape and the scene is set for yet another humdinger of a showdown in which anything can – and quite often does – happen!
Reigning double winners Wigan have held the upper hand in recent years, but it’s St Helens who come into the game as prohibitive favourites on the back of an unbeaten start to the campaign which now stretches to eight Super League games.
The Saints may have rode their luck in eking out last-gasp victories against Huddersfield (Challenge Cup) and Castleford recently but it’s that innate ability of ‘finding a way to win’ which has heightened expectations on Merseyside.
By contrast, Wigan – for once – appear to have snuck under radar to an extent after a stuttering start to the season, due in no small part to the disruption of playing a World Club Challenge game in Sydney at a time when they are still adjusting to life without superstar full-back Sam Tomkins.
Tomkins was the creative force behind Wigan’s double-winning exploits last season but, despite a slow start, Australian speedster Matty Bowen is now making a pretty good fist of replacing him and his upturn in form has helped Wigan compile a four-match winning streak of their own coming into this game.
True, the Warriors weren’t overly-impressive in their last three homes games in beating Hull KR, Catalan Dragons and the hapless London Broncos respectively but, in between, they displayed all their old defensive starch to execute an impressive ‘smash and grab’ on hostile turf vs Grand Final opponents Warrington.
Crucially for Wigan, injury-prone skipper Sean O’Loughlin is available for selection and any good Super League form student will tell you that Wigan boast a phenomenal winning record with the England back-rower locking the scrum. Such is O’Loughlin’s influence, he was rolled out for only two fixtures in the final two months of last season – the Challenge Cup and Grand Finals themselves – which Wigan won both!
O’loughlin’s big-game experience and effective leadership will prove invaluable to an essentially youthful side and, his presence may just help the Wigan front six get on top of a St Helens pack missing big-guns Kyle Amor, Anthony Laffranchi and Willie Manu.
St Helens will also be missing the blistering speed of rising star Adam Swift on the flanks, but they still bristle with class in all the right areas with outstanding full-back Jonny Lomax and phenomenal hooker James Roby still in red-hot form alongside ace playmaker Luke Walsh.
From a punting point of view, history tells us that is is a dangerous fixture to take too strong an opinion in. However, we at Betbright have profited recently by opposing St Helens on the handicap as the exertions of a tough run of games continues to take an edge of them.
So, all things considered, taking Wigan +6 on the handicap line looks the safest call, whilst odds as big as 9/5 on an outright victory look over-priced – grab ’em while you can in our Rugby League betting section, or click here for the St. Helens v Wigan match betting odds!
The game kicks off at 12.15 tomorrow, Good Friday. Let’s hope it’s the prefect start to an enjoyable Easter weekend for all our loyal Super League fans!