Your Best Bet
Last Updated: 27/04/13 3:50pm
This week's Your Best Bet is top-heavy on rugby with both the Heineken Cup and the Super League providing huge encounters, while we're also on hand with a tip on the weekend's football.
Sky Bet's Jordan Fiddes focusses his attention on Salford against Castleford, while his head has been turned by Saracens v Toulon as Union's biggest club competition reaches the semi-final stage.
As ever, football also features on the bill and TEAMtalk.com's reliable tipster Matthew Briggs returns to the column to suggest a Premier League and Championship double.
Brian Noble is back in Super League after a three year absence to take over bottom placed club Salford City Reds. In his first game in charge, the Manchester outfit welcome Castleford Tigers to the City of Salford Stadium in an attempt to leapfrog them in the table. The City Reds are slight favourites for this one and have been given a -4 handicap, however the 'Alternative Handicap' market has more value for this fixture.
In seven of their nine defeats this season, the Tigers have lost by over 10 points and have conceded 390 points in the process. For Salford to win by just nine points this weekend, it's 11/8 and, with the introduction of Brian Noble as head coach, they are likely to cover this. The former Bradford, Wigan and Great Britain head coach is renowned for his success rate - he coached the Bulls to three Grand Final victories and one Challenge Cup winners trophy.
He's used to coaching in adversity too, taking the newly-formed Crusaders into the play-offs for the first time and saved Wigan from relegation in 2006. Salford are certainly in the mould of those struggling teams and recent results have given the City Reds hope of moving from the base of Super League. Only once in their last five games have they lost by more than eight points and even managed to beat league leaders Huddersfield Giants in the process.
Castleford head across the Pennines on the back of a Challenge Cup defeat to Leeds which, incidentally, they lost by more than eight points. Salford, on the other hand, ran in 15 tries to progress against Gloucestershire All Golds. If Brian Noble has been able to input his strategies early Salford will win this one and it will take only two converted tries to cover the -8.5 'Alternative Handicap' at 11/8.
Sunday's clash between relegation certainties Reading and QPR is an interesting one in betting terms, with the visitors looking perilously short at 17/10. That obviously means there's a bit of value to be had on the Royals, who are 6/4 to make it five home wins from 18. Harry Redknapp has looked a doomed man for a few weeks and that's rubbed off on his side, who have only won twice away from home on the road all season.
Reading on the other hand are in a similar woeful predicament, but the atmosphere around the club is much more positive. Adkins is the man they hope will lead them back into the Premier League and their squad have much more reason to impress with next season in mind. It's by no means a 'mortgage job' but worth a small interest at the current prices.
Elsewhere, Charlton are one of the form teams in the Championship after picking up 14 points from the last 18 available and the 21/10 on offer for to sink the division's current worst team, Middlesbrough, looks a decent punt. The Addicks' charge for the play-offs is likely to come up just short at 25/1 but Chris Powell's men have been brilliant of late and they haven't lost away from home for six games.
In that run they have won away at Leicester and smashed Barnsley 6-0 at Oakwell to leave themselves agonisingly short of the play-off places. Tony Mowbray's men look like they're already thinking of their Las Vegas jolly up and have collected just four points in their last nine games, making an away win too under-priced to overlook.
On Sunday, both Saracens and Toulon will be aiming to reach their first ever Heineken Cup Final. It will be the first time the two have met in the European competition and the smart money will be on the French outfit coming into this one.
Prior to this semi-final, Toulon have won all five of their clashes with English opponents and are very slight favourites at 19/20 to take the spoils on Sunday. There is better value, however, in the 'Double Result' with Toulon 13/8 to be in the lead after 40 minutes and going on to win the game.
In four out of their six Heineken Cup games so far this year, the men from France have been winning at half time and gone on to win both halves. They had the third best attack in the group stages and have two players who have created four tries each which no other club have managed in this year's competition.
One of those players is none other than fly-half Jonny Wilkinson, who has also weighed in with a massive 73 points this year and, away from home, has kicked more goals than any other player in the Heineken Cup. Away from home, Toulon will be playing it safe at every opportunity, as they did against Sale and Cardiff in their last two games on the road, so expect Wilkinson to kick plenty of penalties to keep the scoreboard ticking and leading them through to the final.
A £10 stake on all three slips combined produces a return of £467.58. Odds are subject to change. New customers of Sky Bet can claim a free £10 bet.