After last weekends cup action we return to regular league fixtures across all three Betfred divisions as the battle for the Super Eights moves into the second half of the season with round thirteen of Super League, and round twelve in the Championship.
SKY have selected Thursday’s game between the Salford Red Devils and the league leaders St Helens at the AJ Bell Stadium and Friday’s local derby between the Castleford Tigers and Wakefield Trinity, both sides still smarting from losses last weekend.
They will also televise the Saturday tea-time clash between the Catalans Dragons and Hull FC.
Saints recorded a big win last week over the Giants after losing the previous time out against Trinity and are clear favourites to beat the Salford Red Devils when they make the short trip down the A580. Saints have brought Zeb Taia and Mark Percival into their squad with James Bentley and Jack Ashworth making way. Salford are looking to make it three consecutive wins but have lost Robert Lui to injury. Ian Watson brings Lama Tasi, Lee Mossop and Jake Shorrocks into his nineteen man squad.
There are three games on Friday evening.
Castleford host Wakefield in a West Yorkshire derby as fifth entertains eighth. Daryl Powell has made four changes to his side as the two sides play for the Adam Watene Trophy, ten years after the stars death. He has lost Ben Roberts, Nathan Massey, Alex Foster and James Clare to injury and brings in Jesse Sene-Lefao, Junior Moors, James Green and youngster Calum Turner. Trinity are the underdogs with the bookies and have also been forced into four changes with Ryan Hampshire, Chris Annakin, James Batchelor and Max Jowitt all getting places in the nineteen replacing Liam Finn, Scott Grix, Justin Horo and Danny Kirmond .
The other 19:45 kick-off is between the Warrington Wolves and Huddersfield Giants. Strong favourites Warrington have made a number of changes after resting some players for last weekend’s cup victory over the Bradford Bulls including the return of Ben Murdoch-Masila from injury. Embattled Giants coach Chris Thorman has made three changes to the side which were crushed at Saints a week ago with Shannon Wakeman, Adam Walne and Innes Senior dropping out and being replaced by Michael Lawrence, Jared Simpson and Jake Mamo, the latter figuring for the first time since being injured in March.
The 20:00 kick off is between Widnes Vikings and the Wigan Warriors with the odds against the home side despite the Vikings recording their biggest ever club win last weekend in the cup game against Coventry Bears. On-loan Rhino Jimmy Keinhorst will make his first appearance for the Vikings and Hep Cahill is also back in the squad after overcoming an injury. The Warriors need a win to keep up the pressure on arch enemy Saints and but coach Wane has made four changes to his squad, resting a number of key players. Tom Davies, Gabe Hamlin, Josh Ganson and Callum Field are all in the 19-man squad with Ben Flower, Liam Farrell, Sam Tomkins and Joel Tomkins missing out for the Warriors.
Saturday late afternoon will herald the arrival of Hull FC in the south of France to take on a Dragons side still anchored to the foot of the table. It may be too late for new signing Josh Drinkwater to get a game for the Dragons and will be hoping to overcome strong odds against them and record their third league victory of the season. FC have their own new signing Joe Westerman waiting in the wings for his second cub debut after playing for the Airlie Birds from 2011-15.
The final fixture of the round sees the Leeds Rhinos travel to the east coast for the second weekend running, this time to take on Hull KR in the Sunday afternoon fixture, and hoping that they don’t fall victim to a third consecutive one-point loss. KR are seeing a gap open up above them as they try to avoid the middle eights but the bookies fancy them to register another loss.
The Championship fixtures are spread equally over two days. Saturday fixtures at 15:00 have London Broncos hoping to stop their slide down the table as they take on the Dewsbury Rams, and Swinton Lions looking for a miracle against ‘ironed on’ middle eights outfit Toulouse. At 18:30 the Toronto Wolfpack play their first supposed 'home' fixture of the season (but to be played at London Skolars ground, New River Stadium).
Sunday has three 15:00 kick-offs as Featherstone continue their middle eights campaign against Batley Bulldogs, a resurgent Leigh Centurions take on Barrow Raiders, and two of the bottom three meet up as Sheffield Eagles travel to the Rochdale Hornets.
In Championship One you can take in the following Sunday games (15:00 unless indicated);
North Wales Crusaders v. Hemel Stags (14:30)
Coventry Bears v. London Skolars
Doncaster v. Bradford Bulls
Keighley Cougars v. Whitehaven
Newcastle Thunder v. Hunslet
Workington Town v. Oldham
York City Knights v. West Wales Crusaders
Wherever you are watching your rugby this weekend, enjoy.