Salford's future may look brighter with win over Widnes
On-loan Weller Hauraki value to get on the scoresheet
Sky Sports Action, 7.45pm Thursday
All the talk in Betfred Super League circles this week has been about how the competition will look next season and it seems certain that the much-maligned current Eights structure will be scrapped for something simpler and more traditional.
Which teams will be in the top flight in 2019 is a different question altogether and Salford and Widnes are far from guaranteed to be part of the elite next year.
The Vikings look most vulnerable, lying at the foot of the table after a dismal run of nine straight defeats in all competitions.
Interim head coach Francis Cummins was unable to stop the rot in his first game in charge last weekend as Widnes went down 32-12 to Catalans in France.
The Vikings are already seven points adrift of the top eight and another loss would make avoiding a bottom-four finish almost impossible.
At least they are playing Salford, who were the last Super League team they beat in a 24-16 success in March.
The Red Devils are in miserable form too, having lost their last five games, and were whipped 45-14 by Hull in their last outing.
That loss has also cost them the services of Mark Flanagan and Josh Jones due to concussion and an ankle injury respectively.
Nevertheless, bookmakers have installed Salford as 4-7 favourites and ask them to give up a six-point handicap.
It’s difficult to be dogmatic in what appears to be a desperate betting heat so the best strategy may be to chance a small bet on the hosts winning by between 11 and 20 points at 7-2.
Six of Widnes’s recent losses have come by that margin, as have two of Salford’s four victories at the AJ Bell Stadium.
Oddly, both teams will field players who are on loan from their opponents.
Ed Chamberlain and Greg Burke will line up for Salford and Weller Hauraki will be in the Widnes side.
Burke’s only Super League try of the season came for Widnes in the teams' previous meeting and Hauraki was also on the scoresheet for the Red Devils that night.
The Kiwi has notched three times in 14 appearances in 2018 so it might be worth a small punt at 6-1 that he adds to that tally against his parent club.
Salford to win by 11-20 points
1pt 7-2 Paddy Power, Betfair
W Hauraki to score a try
0.5pt 6-1 Hills
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