Warriors primed to halt Wolves’ revival in Newcastle
Super League hits the north east for the annual Magic Weekend
Betfred Super League hits the road to the north east for the 11th annual Magic Weekend with the 12-team weekend jamboree staged in Newcastle for the third successive season.
Last year’s Magic was the lowest scoring in the event’s history with none of the matches featuring more than 50 points and the average total tally just under 44.
With heavy showers forecast, points may be at a premium again for the six matches that will have a big bearing on the Super League table.
Wakefield v Widnes
Sky Sports 2, 2.30pm Saturday
Wakefield produced one of the moments of Magic 2016 when Jacob Miller’s last-gasp drop-goal sunk Catalans and Trinity can put daylight between themselves and the bottom four by beating rock-bottom Widnes.
The Vikings are set to give a debut to the mercurial Rangi Chase who has arrived on loan from Castleford but that may not be enough to save the 9-4 underdogs from defeat.
Widnes’s 34-20 Ladbrokes Challenge Cup loss at Warrington last weekend was their ninth defeat by 20 points or fewer this year.
They were hammered 30-4 at Wakey in April but on Newcastle’s neutral ground, things should be closer and Denis Betts’s boys are likely to be competitive before falling to defeat.
Wakefield to win by one to ten points
2pts 5-2 bet365, Betfair
Wakefield to win by 11 to 20 points
1pt 10-3 Betfair
Hull v St Helens
Sky Sports 2, 4.45pm Saturday
Hull will reach the Super League summit if they see of struggling St Helens and Lee Radford’s Airlie Birds should cover the eight-point handicap line set by the layers.
They’ve won both their Magic outings in Newcastle while their opponents were humiliated by Huddersfield at last year’s event.
And the current form of the two teams couldn’t be more contrasting. Hull’s 62-0 rout of Catalans was their fifth straight win while Saints’ cup capitulation at Castleford means they have triumphed only twice in eight outings.
New coach Justin Holbrook will have a watching brief today but the Australian can’t take the reins soon enough.
Albert Kelly bagged a brace when Hull came from behind to beat Saints 24-14 at the KCom Stadium last month.
He has scored in eight of his 12 appearances and can dot down again.
2pts Evs Coral, Ladbrokes
A Kelly to score a try
1pt 10-11 Coral, Ladbrokes
Warrington v Wigan
Sky Sports 2, 7pm Saturday
The main event of day one is a repeat of the 2016 Grand Final and a dress rehearsal for next month’s Ladbrokes Challenge Cup quarter-final.
Wigan have won seven Magic matches – more than any other Super League side – and have beaten Warrington on their last three meetings.
However, bookmakers still make the Warriors 5-4 underdogs which looks a decent business.
The Wolves have lost only once in eight outings but they’ve been generally unimpressive as illustrated by their scrambled success over Widnes in the cup last weekend.
Warrington playmaker Kevin Brown is the last survivor from the inaugural Magic in 2007.
He is 6-1 to be named man of the match and spark “Newcastle Brown” headlines but a better bet may be 13-2 George Williams who is set to return from injury to pull the strings for Wigan.
Captain Sean O’Loughlin should be also back to ease Wigan’s injury problems and Shaun Wane’s men can make a mockery of the match odds.
3pts 5-4 Coral, Ladbrokes
G Williams man of the match
1pt 13-2 general