So it turns out I didn’t polish the crystal properly, and that’s why I couldn’t see Wakey’s tremendous victory at the JJB. Hmmph, well I think it’s clean enough this week so let’s see what mystical wonders it shall reveal…
Hull FC beat Wigan by 6
Two sides that could prove to be evenly matched, but I feel I should pick FC because a) they have most of their big names back on deck and b) they weren’t the ones stinking last weekend. Wigan will regain some dignity here, but not quite enough for the victory. Oh, and here’s a bonus prediction for you: a Mark Calderwood brace (because that just seems to be the way the world works).
Leeds Rhinos beat Wakefield Trinity Wildcats by 14
I feel bad picking against Wakefield after both their impressive win at the JJB last weekend and also the well-documented bad luck they’ve had recently, but they’re going to Headlingley where few teams do particularly well and Danny Buderus will be making his debut for the Rhinos. I think the Wildcats will put up a very decent fight before finally bowing down to the might of Leeds, who after all are far more unlikely to let in silly long-range tries.
St Helens beat Warrington Wolves by 2
A golden rule of Super League predictions: no matter how tempting it is, and no matter how much it looks like they’re about to become true challengers, never ever EVER pick the Wolves over Saints. Warrington have beaten St Helens once in the Super League era, and not at Knowsley Rd in that time. I suspect Warrington will make me eat my words for the first half, before caving in and eventually losing due to a stupid penalty in the last few minutes.
Celtic Crusaders beat Salford City Reds by 6
No logical reason for this pick, just a crazy gut feeling. Celtic also have their competitive start out of the way already, and they looked pretty good once they got that first half out of the way. Salford are at home and I really could be reading this wrong, but I think they might be a little rusty going into this, and I also think the Crusaders will be after revenge for last year’s NL1 Grand Final. I think it should be a good game though.
Catalan Dragons beat Huddersfield Giants by 18
Is it better to be playing the Dragons at this time of year? The heat should be less of an issue, but to counter that the Dragons appear to have recruited well and Perpignan has become a fortress for them. The Giants also haven’t won an opening game for a few years now and have been slow starters in the past few seasons. At least they get the relative ordeal (ha!) of their trip to France out of the way first thing.
Bradford Bulls beat Hull KR by 16
Hull KR should have improved quite a bit this year, but they haven’t ever come close to victory at Odsal since their return to the top flight. Bradford have a slight distraction in the shape of the Greg Bird saga, but I think they’ll prove to be too strong for the Robins to start with. Look for Paul Deacon to get back into the swing of things early on this season.
Castleford Tigers beat Harlequins by 4
Two sides that I think will be eager to show that they’ve improved since 2008, but I feel I have to pick Cas because a) they’re at home and b) they have a good record against Harlequins and all their previous iterations. Last time the sides met the Tigers won 66-12, but I see this being a cagier affair. However, if Brian McDermott was entirely serious about Quins’ title ambitions, this is the exact sort of game that they need to win.