Wolves to maul understrength Tigers
On any other weekend, Friday night’s televised Super League showdown between Warrington Wolves and Castleford Tigers would have been a must-see cracker between two evenly-matched sides jostling hard for the highest play-off perch possible.
Instead – following events of last weekend – punters should be eyeing up this fixture along the lines of ‘Warrington – by how many?’
Because, having booked their place in next Saturday’s Challenge Cup Final with an impressive victory over Widnes, Castleford coach Daryl Powell has predictably rung the changes ahead of a fixture he could have done without.
Powell has understandably rested a battery of big-guns ahead of the all-Yorkshire Wembley showdown with Leeds – Castleford biggest game in over 20 years – with superstar hooker Daryl Clarke, skipper Michael Shenton and playmakers Marc Sneyd and Luke Dorn headlining the absentee list alongside injured pack heavyweights Grant Millington and Craig Huby.
Prolific winger Justin Carney must also sit out this game through suspension and, though Castleford’s strength in depth allows him to recall some handy players such as Jordan Tansey, Weller Hauraki and Ashley Gibson, it’s only natural that the bulk of the player’s minds will be elsewhere right now.
The contrast with Warrington couldn’t be more stark. The Wolves owe their fans a performance following their semi-final defeat against Leeds and Tony Smith has wisely given the same group of players the chance to atone for their disappointing display.
With just the Super League Grand Final to now aim for, it is imperative that the Wolves finally start building some real momentum after a stuttering campaign and – with ‘losable’ fixtures against Huddersfield, Wigan and St Helens still to come – Smith will obviously be targeting two points and a ‘performance’ against Castleford as a matter of high priority.
Matches where one team is incentivised and the other one isn’t are notoriously difficult for us to price up from a handicap perspective and, providing earlier showers clear away as forecast, Castleford look eminently fallible with a price of 13/2 for the win.
Take the Wolves to win easily with Castleford fielding virtually a reserve three-quarters line – Warrington’s ‘go to’ winger Joel Monaghan looks a prime candidate to score the game’s first try.
The match kicks off at 8.00pm on Friday night at Warrington’s Halliwell Jones Stadium.