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Monday, 10 December, 2018

Leeds Rhinos to end opening day with an almighty charge

Charnley fancied to shine for Warrington against old club

Matt Parcell scores a second-half try in Leeds’ Super League clash with Hull last month
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Betfred Super League Magic Weekend day one
Sky Sports Arena, from 3pm Saturday

For the fourth consecutive year the Betfred Super League's annual two-day 12-team jamboree heads to Newcastle with two league points at stake for the teams.

This year there's also a Champion­ship curtain-raiser as that division's top two Toronto and Toulouse clash and the weather is set fair for the Magic Weekend.

In its early years the event earned a reputation as a festival of tryscoring but gradually scoring patterns have reverted to the Super League norm.

Last year's matches averaged 45.33 points per game, the same as the 2017 seasonal average.

Widnes v St Helens 3pm
Widnes have the worst Magic record of the current competing teams and are the weekend's biggest underdogs at 10-1.

Saints, who start proceedings two points clear at the Super League summit, have covered the handicap ten times in 15 matches in 2018 and are asked to give up a 22-point start against their tenth-placed opponents.

That was the margin when the teams met at Widnes on Easter Monday.

Between them St Helens' prolific trio of Tommy Makinson, Mark Percival and Ben Barba bagged five tries that day and Sky Bet go 7-2 that they all touch down on day one.

Barba is the shortest man-of-the-match favourite in Super League history at even-money.

He has won individual honours in five of seven TV appearances already this term.

Widnes may be able to run the league leaders slightly closer than they did last month with Joe Mellor, Patrick Ah Van, Danny Craven and on-loan Jimmy Keinhorst all returning to the line-up so the winning-margin betting could be the way to go.

Saints have won five of their 15 games by a margin in the teens so backing them to prevail by 11-20 points at 3-1 looks a fair bet.

Recommendation
St Helens to win by 11 to 20 points
2pts 3-1 general

Wigan v Warrington 5.15pm
All good things come to an end and the bookmakers believe Warrington's ten-game winning run could well hit the buffers on Magic Weekend day one.

Opponents Wigan are 4-5 to snap the streak with the Wolves 5-4 to make it 11 on the spin. A repeat of last year's nailbiting draw at St James' Park is a 25-1 chance.

The Warriors are in excellent form themselves having won ten of their last 11 games with the only loss coming against Saints. But any urge to back Shaun Wane's team is tempered by the news that captain Sean O'Lough­lin is out with a calf problem and George Williams is not a certain starter.

Warrington won 16-10 when the sides met at the Halliwell Jones Stadium in February, though Wigan rallied from an 8-0 half-time deficit.

The Warriors have won all 14 of their second halves this year but that run must end sometime too and Warrington have scored more second-stanza points than their opponents ten times in 15 attempts.

Former Wigan winger Josh Charnley lines up against his old club having made a blistering start to his Wolves career with 12 tries in eight appearances.

He's 11-10 to bite the hand that used to feed him and that looks worth taking.

Recommendation
J Charnley to score a try
2pts 11-10 general


Castleford v Leeds 7.30pm
Champions Leeds won their first six Magic Weekend matches but have lost their last five including last year's 29-18 defeat to Castleford.

The Tigers have won on all three of their trips to Newcastle and are 11-8 to keep that 100 per cent record intact.

Cas sneaked home 25-24 when they teams clashed at Elland Road in March to record a ninth win in ten games against their neigh­bours, clinging on after leading 25-10 at half-time.

The Rhinos have a decent second-half record having won eight and drawn one post-interval periods in 14 games, but Cas have been poor after the break.

Daryl Powell's team have scored more points than their opponents only three times in 13 games this season and with key men Luke Gale, Ben Roberts and Greg Eden all out injured, the Tigers look vulnerable.

Leeds to win the second half at 5-6 looks the bet to be on.

Recommendation
Leeds to win the second half
3pts 5-6 Hills


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The Rhinos have a decent second-half record having won eight and drawn one post-interval periods in 14 games
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