Rested Rovers should test in-form Wolves.
There may not be a Super League team in better form than Warrington right now, but the squad strength of the Wolves will be tested to the full as they square up to a ‘rested’ Hull Kingston Rovers just five days after Sunday’s Challenge Cup hammering of Bradford Bulls.
England halfback Richie Myler and masterly Aussie hooker Michael Monaghan – two men who can make the Wolves ‘tick’ – both picked up injuries at Odsal and will sit out the clash at the KC Lightstream Stadium.
With the fifth-placed Wolves already missing the muscular aggression of pack stalwarts Ben Westwood and Trent Waterhouse, coach Tony Smith takes a youngish squad to the east side of Hull which could mean a debut for highly-rated academy prospect Joe Philbin.
Hull KR have had plenty of time to lick their wounds following a horrific 50 points drubbing away to Castleford a fortnight ago and will surely be fired up to deliver a response, even though their own injury problems are starting to mount.
Full-back Ben Cockayne and back-rowers Kevin Larroyer and Jordan Cox all picked up long-term injuries in that West Yorkshire mauling on an afternoon when anything which could go wrong, did.
But, the Robins did receive a timely boost during the week when influential front-rower Michael Weyman had a two-game suspension rescinded and the former Kangaroo is sure to lead from the front against the Wolves in an impressive prop-forward rotation which includes the imposing Walker twins, Adam and Jonathan.
Rovers coach Craig Sandercock has no worries at half-back or hooker either, where an axis of Travis Burns, Kris Keating and Josh Hodgson stands comparison with just about any side in the competition, but it’s in the three-quarters where the Robins’ perennial problems lie, particularly with the out-of-sorts Kris Welham dropped from the squad this week.
Injuries and loss of form have meant that Sandercock has never been able to mould together a settled back-line all season and, though most of the players at his disposal have their merits, they have their flaws too, particularly recalled full-back Greg Eden.
The Robins’ defensive frailties on the channels was an area which Castleford exploited with ruthless precision and, in Matty Russell, Ryan Atkins, Joel Monaghan et al, Warrington have the personnel to do the same, providing their pack can establish a platform for half-backs Chris Bridge and Stefan Ratchford.
When the two sides met in the Challenge Cup at the same venue earlier in the season, it was the Wolves who emerged victorious by a 28-24 scoreline but, just five days later, the Robins surprisingly exacted revenge by a score-line of 25-12 in the Wolves backyard.
With that in mind, it could be argued that odds of 12/5 for Hull KR to win the game outright are more than fair but, all things considered, victory may just prove beyond them given the confidence running through the mighty Wolves right now.
We at Betbright think a smarter bet is to take Hull KR receiving 10.5 points start on the handicap at odds of 5/6.
The match kicks off at 8.00pm on Friday night at Hull KR’s KC Lightstream Stadium.