Sky Bet's Jordan Fiddes predicts injuries to play a part in this week's Super League
By Jordan Fiddes - Twitter: @SkyJordanFiddes. Last Updated: 11/05/13 2:43pm
St.Helens welcome back some key men while Widnes suffer a major blow
As we hit the halfway stage in this year's Super League, team news and injuries play a vital part in team performance and, more importantly, the weekend's handicaps.
It has been well documented that St.Helens have been severely hampered by injuries so far this year, but this week, the shoe is on the other foot.
The travelling Widnes squad will be without influential full-back Rhys Handbury for the trip to Langtree Park.
The Vikings' leading try-scorer also tops the try assist charts and most metres made for the club so he will undoubtedly be a huge loss.
Second to him on Widnes' try scoring chart is winger Patrick Ah Van, who is also missing after picking up an injury in the defeat to Wakefield last week so they will be struggling for points on the road on Friday.
This may seem a little large considering Saints' form so far this year, however they welcome back three key and experienced men for the visit of Widnes.
Winger Ade Gardener and forwards Willie Manu and Josh Perry all return and with Widnes' most emphatic forward Ben Cross also injured, I expect them to dominate in the middle and therefore cover the handicap.
Widnes have never beaten the Saints in the Super League, with their last win coming in 1994.
That means St.Helens have won the last 16 fixtures between the two sides and it's likely to be an emphatic 17th on Friday night.
The Rhinos are odds on to overcome last month's draw against the Bulls
Rhinos to Romp
It should be a lot tighter in the other fixture on Friday with a mouth-watering West Yorkshire derby televised live on Sky Sports.
The Bulls start as 5/2 outsiders which has already caught the eye of a few punters and they may have looked at the head-to-heads when they lumped on early.
Since Super League's inception, Bradford have won 28 against their rivals, with Leeds winning 24.
Leeds, however, are strong 2/7 favourites this weekend and that's probably because they have only been beaten twice in their last 10 against the Bulls.
Bradford did win this fixture 12-4 last year; however the conditions were of complete contrast as to the sunny evening forecast for this Friday.
The Bulls have lost their last two games whereas Leeds haven't lost in their last seven in all competitions.
Both coaches have pin-pointed intensity as the key in order to win this derby and, with the Rhinos experienced in that field winning five of the last six Grand Finals, they should do enough to win this by two tries.
View from the Sky Bet trading room...
"The Salford City Reds have once again been given the biggest handicap of the weekend with a 26 point start and that's not surprising considering they have never won at the DW Stadium.
"As always, Super League's top try scorer, Sam Tomkins is popular with the punters.
"He's 5/1 to score the first try and is yet to play a game this year without scoring so it's no wonder he is being backed heavily again with Sky Bet.
"Wakefield have been the biggest movers in the handicap market early on.