It’s double delight for Super League fans this Easter weekend with Rounds Eight and Nine throwing up plenty of local derbies to get the competitive spirit flowing.
There is also two full rounds of the Betfred Championship, one on Friday and the other on Monday, with a set of Championship One fixtures on Friday and a Challenge Cup re-arranged fixture between Hunslet and the Bradford Bulls thrown in on Monday afternoon for good measure.
We take a look at the games to be played over Thursday and Friday.
Thursday night's televised game is between third placed Wakefield Trinity and the Castleford Tigers, on a high after last week’s nerve-jangling one point win over the old enemy, the Leeds Rhinos. The visitors to Belle Vue make just one change with Oliver Holmes returning from suspension, Jy Hitchcox the one to miss out. Trinity have made two changes to the side which lost to Warrington last time out with Joe Arundel and Kyle Wood replacing Danny Kirmond and James Batchelor. The Tigers are the odds-on favourites for the win needing victory to leapfrog Trinity into third.
There are four different kick-off times on Friday to keep you on your toes.
The first match is the game at the AJ Bell Stadium where fellow strugglers Salford Red Devils and the Catalans Dragons play out a four pointer. The Red Devils welcome back Luke Burgess to their nineteen man squad replacing Tyrone McCarthy, while Kris Welham is hopeful of making a return to the playing side. Steve McNamara makes a couple of changes to the side anchored at the foot of the table with Benjamin Jullien and Alrix Da Costa returning to the squad and replacing Lucas Albert and Iain Thornley. The home side are the favourites to register their third win of the season.
The Sky Sports cameras will be at Craven Park as Hull KR are the hosts for the 12:50 kick-off derby game with FC. It’s the Airlie Birds who are big favourites to get one over the Robins but emotion plays a big part in this game in front of what will be a packed house. McGuire and Lunt both face late fitness checks but Nick Scruton and Lee Jewitt do return to the squad, as do Matty Marsh and Josh Johnston. FC will take a massive boost from the return of star hooker Danny Houghton who has been missing since the early season trip to Australia.
Huddersfield Giants sacked their coach on Tuesday and have the toughest of tasks with the visit of the Leeds Rhinos. Chris Thorman has taken temporary charge and is rueing an injury crisis which has robbed him of many of his stars. Danny Brough and Sebastine Ikahihifo will both face fitness tests but Kruise Leeming is definitely unavailable. The Rhinos have Brett Ferres returning to face his former side and Brad Dwyer is also named in the Leeds squad. Brian McDermott is also without many of his first choice side too for a game which promises to be the battle of the walking wounded. The Rhinos are big odds-on favourites for the win.
Also at 3:00pm the Warrington Wolves are at home at the Halliwell-Jones and take on Widnes Vikings in another short distance fixture. The bookies and the pundits can’t see past a home win and the Wolves have Ben Currie back in contention for a place in the playing side. Denis Betts will be hoping that his side can build on their win over the Red Devils last time out and hold on to or improve their current eighth place.
The most anticipated game of the round kicks off at 15:15, again on Sky TV, as second placed Wigan Warriors travel to the Totally Wicked Stadium to take on the league leaders St Helens. Justin Holbrook’s only change is to bring Ryan Morgan into the squad in place of the injured Adam Swift while coach Wane makes two changes to last week bringing in Romaine Navarette and Josh Woods with Morgan Escare and Gabe Hamlin missing out. It’s Saints who are the slight favourites with the bookies.
In the Betfred Championship the top two sides go head to head as London Broncos are the hosts to Toulouse Olympique XIII with a 13:00 kick off at the Trailfinders. Sheffield Eagles and the Rochdale Hornets are also adjacent in the table, but at the opposite end, and they play at 15:00, as do Swinton Lions and Leigh Centurions. The six o’clock kick-off is between third placed Featherstone Rovers and fourth placed Toronto Wolfpack and should be another cracker of a game. Half an hour later Batley Bulldogs and the Dewsbury Rams play the heavy woollen derby with the final game of the afternoon kicking off at 19:30 at the New Shay where Halifax take on surprise package Barrow Raiders as sixth plays seventh.
In the Championship One you could take in any of the following on Friday;
14:00 Hemel Stags v. London Skolars
14:00 Hunslet v. Keighley Cougars
14:30 West Wales Raiders v. North Wales Crusaders
15:00 Coventry Bears v. Newcastle Thunder
15:00 Doncaster v. York City Knights
15:00 Whitehaven v. Workington Town
18:00 Bradford Bulls v. Oldham