Wigan the pick with key troops back in action
Hull can bounce back against Leeds
Wigan v St Helens
Sky Sports 1, 12.15pm Friday
Castleford v Wakefield
Sky Sports 3, 2.30pm Friday
For the first time in almost quarter of a century, St Helens will go into battle against arch-rivals Wigan without Keiron Cunningham involved as either as a player or as part of the coaching staff.
The Saints legend was sacked on Monday after two-and-a- half years as head coach. His assistants Sean Long and Jamahl Lolesi have been placed in temporary charge.
Long is a 25-1 chance to get the gig on a full-time basis with Betfred, who make Australians David Fairleigh and Jason Demetriou 3-1 joint favourites to take over in the hotseat.
Bookmakers have raised the handicap that Wigan are asked to concede from six to eight points in the past 48 hours but that’s more to do with the Warriors’ team news than Cunningham’s dismissal.
Captain Sean O’Loughlin, Joe Burgess, Michael McIlorum and Anthony Gelling are all set to return from injury absences.
Gelling bagged a hat-trick in the last meeting which Wigan won 25-0, continuing a trend of low-scoring games.
Over the past two seasons, the total tally in these derbies has averaged just 30 points so an unders bet can be considered when lines become available.
In the meantime, a home win by two converted tries or less is attractively priced at 2-1 while either side opening the scoring with a penalty is worth a punt at 9-2.
The best bet on a crowded card may be to back Hull to bounce back from their home hiding by Salford when they face Leeds at the KCom Stadium.
Lee Radford is likely to welcome back a host of key men including top tryscorer Albert Kelly, captain Gareth Ellis, Scot Taylor and Carlos Tuimavave and the task of conceding a two-point handicap to the Rhinos looks far from insurmountable.
Elsewhere, the layers expect resounding home wins for the top two in the Betfred Super League.
Four wins on the trot have taken Salford to the dizzy heights of second spot – Ian Watson’s team are asked to concede 16 points to Leigh while table-topping Castleford give up 20 to Wakefield, who are in decent form themselves.
Finding an edge in the handicap betting looks tricky but one wager stands out in the Tigers-Trinity tussle, where Luke Gale can be backed at 6-4 to add to his impressive try tally.
The Cas half back did Racing Post Sport followers a 5-2 favour when notching his ninth try of the season at Wigan a week ago.
He has now touched down in six of his eight appearances and Gale should be backed to force his way over again.
Wigan to win by one to 12 points
1pt 2-1 bet365, Ladbrokes
Penalty first scoring play in Wigan v St Helens
1pt 9-2 Ladbrokes
4pts 10-11 general
L Gale to score a try in Castleford v Wakefield
3pts 6-4 Betfair, Paddy Power