Fiddes' Cent

Sky Bet's Jordan Fiddes predicts the pitch to play its part at the Magic Weekend

By Jordan Fiddes - Twitter: @SkyJordanFiddes.   Last Updated: 23/05/13 9:57pm

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Sky Bet

Round 16 is the 'Magic Round' in Super League with all seven fixtures played back to back in one stadium, the Etihad in Manchester.

That means the state of the pitch and the condition of the players is taken into account more so than in regular Super League Rounds.

Come the end of each day, the pitch will be heavy - with 26+ players having already played three 80-minute games on it - so a different style of play may be required and that's where my first tip comes to the fore.

The third game on the Saturday will see the two Hull clubs collide with FC favourites at 4/11.

The handicap however is more appealing with the Black and Whites given a -8 score line to overcome at 10/11.

The Airlie Birds come into the game in great form having won five of their last six Super League fixtures.

More importantly, star signings Gareth Ellis and Daniel Holdsworth are now fit and playing consistently well.

Holdsworth was Man of the Match in Hull's last game against Warrington in what could prove a crucial result coming into this weekend.

Warrington are renowned for physical prowess, especially in the forwards, so, for Hull FC to overpower them says a lot about their men in the middle.

When a pitch is heavy - as expected come 5pm on Saturday - forward play is key.

The Black and Whites can boast the league's top tackler in Danny Houghton - the hooker has made 624 tackles so far this campaign - but also lie third in the table for carries per game.

In layman's terms, that means that the Airlie Birds have found a way to win tough games this year and Saturday will certainly be that.

Had the -8 handicap been given to Hull each week so far this season they would have covered it on six occasions.

Surprisingly, the Robins are undefeated against their Humberside rivals at the Magic Weekend but, with a few more game-breakers in the side this year, expect the black and white side of Hull to be victorious.

Rangi Chase: Looking to steer Castleford to a win over rivals Wakefield

Youth is key

In contrast to the heavy pitch late in the day, the Etihad Stadium turf is regularly watered on Magic Weekend and fast early on in the piece.

That means there is the chance to spread the ball and use the width more in the early rounds.

Castleford take on West Yorkshire rivals Wakefield in the second game on Saturday and I expect the Tigers' recent trip across the channel to pay dividends in this one.

Castleford lost 39-30 in a tight game against Catalans but that was on a pitch similar to the one at the Etihad.

They also have the youngest starting line-up - as Gilmour misses out - of all the teams at the Magic Weekend so when fitness tells on a fast pitch, the young men should prevail.

Wakefield, on the other hand, have struggled of late, winning just two of their previous six Super League fixtures.

Castleford are slight outsiders for the game, however, being given a +4 handicap at 10/11 but I'm expecting them to win the game outright at 11/8.

With Rangi Chase in the side Castleford stand a chance against any opposition.

The Tigers' stand-off has made 52 tackle busts already this term and has made more attacking kicks than any other player in Super League.

He's 4/1 to get the Sky Sports Man of the Match in the game and, should Castleford win, he will be instrumental and likely to be a front-runner for the award.

View from the Sky Bet trading room...

"After St Helens' surprise win over Leeds last week, we've had to change the handicap for their game against Warrington this weekend.

"At the start of the week, we had them as +12, now they are +8 at 10/11 which has seen some action.

"There has also been some movement on the Salford vs Widnes game.

"You will see that most companies have Widnes as favourites, however we have been more generous on Salford and both teams start on scratch."

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