Thursday, 11 February 2010

Super League Round 2 - Quick thoughts

I like to get some brief thoughts down on here for the upcoming Super League games so here’s how I see things. I’m only going to do the Friday games now as it has been a very long day.

Wigan v Hull KR

As this is the SKY game, I would stress the point that you are more likely to find value in play so I would avoid overstaking to begin with. That said, I disagree with the opening odds. For mine, Wigan should be more like a 1.6 shot. I’m notoriously abysmal at predicting pre match prices, however!

This is the second game of the season for both sides, and neither have any new injury concerns. Both teams played inferior opposition last week and so you probably can’t read too much into their performances.

One thing I have noticed is that the markets have a tendency to hop onto bandwagons but also like to support long held views. Wigan have a reputation for being a “big side” despite not living upto this in the recent past – indeed their price nearly always seems lower (in my eyes) than what it should be.

So, why do I consider Wigan underpriced? Well, I agree that they should be favourites. Wigan can probably expect a Top 4 berth at the end of the year and this is the games that they need to win. However, 1.3s appears too low a price for two teams who are fairly well matched. I consider Wigan to be overly reliant upon Sam Tomkins for creativity and whilst he has been supplied with an improved pack in 2010 (Stuart Fielden seems to be as keen as ever, Iafeta has lost weight and Paul Prescott has a year’s more experience) and a master organiser in Paul Deacon who can take some pressure off him, I would always worry about a second season player being the hub of your team.

Hull KR are no mugs either. I do think they will struggle to replicate their 2009 success and they are light going forward but having reviewed the stats from their opening match, I think I may have overestimated their weakness in this area. Admittedly it was only against Salford, but Hull KR’s starting props set a good platform averaging over 8 m per carry whilst their interchange props averaged over 7 m. Not outstanding, and you can expect that to decrease against a better defence, but when you factor in the kicking game of Michael Dobson and Paul Cooke, I start to believe that KR are capable of matching Wigan in a territorial battle.

On account of the above and my previously expressed views on the fact that early in the season, so much is unknown and that RL can be a random game at the best of times, 1.3 is too short an opening price but I wouldn’t dive in. A good start from Wigan will see their price drop massively and allow you time to analyse the game on the field itself.

Salford v Crusaders

Crusaders have scored two tries this year and have gained fewer metres than Warrington despite having played twice as long. I like underdogs and you can never rule Celtic out, but their odds look very skinny.

Crusaders will improve as the year goes on, but I would be surprised if they found the cohesion that they have lacked so far this season against a Salford side, who appear to be largely underrated. I really like the Salford halfback pairing, especially with Daniel Holdsworth offering guidance from loose forward although the Reds’ backline is very green and lightweight.

Backing 1.3s will only lead you to the poorhouse so if you are going to cover anything, I would look at Celtic, but I would only advise very small stakes.

Hull v Huddersfield

Heads or Tails? That’s how I see this one. And given that one side is a widely available 6/4, I know who I am backing.

I was very impressed by Hull last week, but I was equally impressed by Huddersfield. Both have the makings of solid sides who will be impressive in 2010.

I just think the market has over-reacted to a good display against a very poor Saints side and are factoring in home advantage too much. Yes, Hull do have better go forward and have more experience in the halves, but Huddersfield’s backs look far stronger than Hull’s and they aren’t exactly poor in the halves and forwards.

This one really could go either way; no result would surprise me but given the odds available, I know where I think the value lies.

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