What a great weekend of play-off rugby league football (if you consider Thursday night the start of the weekend). And if you followed us in over the weekend you are many points up in your punting and that’s what we want.
We predicted an upset in the Huddersfield, Wigan game and I really think coach Anderson paid for his lack of big match build up to this game. I know they get another chance this weekend buts it’s hard to create momentum and he must be worried that Wigan simply wanted it more than his team. The Wigan line speed was electric and they simply didn’t allow the Giants to play. The other problem was that the Giant playmakers have not often experienced that level of intensity at the play of the ball and both Grix and Danny Brough seemed to struggle to come up with ideas as the pressure told on their forwards. It’s hard to make big plays when there are massive opposition shirts in your face. The scoreline of 22-8 was a fair reflection of the game, however I also think a lot of things went Wigan’s way during the night (they do when you are playing well) and that ability to play at this level is something that Huddersfield are going to have to learn to cope with quickly or they will leave the competition next weekend.
The best performance of the weekend, from a spectacle view point, was no doubt Warrington and we said, when we tipped them to win, that they play their best when not everything is at stake. This game with its hatch door chance for the loser meant that the Warrington playmakers did so without fear and when they can do that they are too much for anyone in the league. Similarly their opponents, Leeds, are never the same as when they have no escape route. It will be a different Leeds side that turns up next weekend against St Helens on Friday night at Headingley.
St Helens have been playing very well of late and their eight try romp against Hull KR was very pleasing for coach Nathan Brown. I think his biggest smile was reserved for knowing that his ace, James Roby came through the game after such a long injury, in only his second game back, with flying colours. Roby is explosive and vital to his teams chance going forward and with him and Lance Hohaia both fit the Saints have talented play makers sitting behind an awesome pack. They will challenge Leeds in every department and we expect a cracker next Friday with the loser finished for 2013.
Let’s not rule Hull out of the picture just yet either. A lack of mistakes and a great defence wins play- off games and coach Peter Gentle mapped out a game that would do the job for Hull against Catalan. They will have to find a way to score if they are going to trouble Huddersfield but that defence was amazing on Friday. Time and again they turned away the Dragons with at one stage a 4th set of six on their try line seeing no way through for the visitors. That intensity is what the Giants struggled with against Wigan and if Hull can repeat it we could see another upset on the cards on Friday. It’s interesting that their profile looks similar to that of the Baltimore Ravens last year in the NFL, they claimed the Super Bowl on the basis of an awe-inspiring defence. Perhaps Gentle could get no 52 Ray Lewis to come over and talk to his guys for this weekend and explain that defence can get the job done.
Two mouth-watering games this weekend and after we sift through the injury news from the weekend we will be up in plenty of time with our tips. Enjoy the build-up and spend some of your winnings from last weekend but keep some back for next weekend. There’s money to be made.