Rugby League Play Offs

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Published: 13/09/2012

The Super League reaches the play-off stages this weekend, just who will emerge victorious and claim the prize as the best Rugby League side in Great Britain?

Wigan won the regular season by one point from Warrington yet it is the latter who are the favourites. The Wolves (Warrington) are 11/8 (paddy Power/ladbrokes) for success while the Warriors (Wigan) are 13/8 (sportingbet). This is probably as a result of Warrington beating Wigan the last time these sides met. These two have shown themselves to be the best sides in the league and I could not put anyone off backing either of the pair. Of the two Wigan appeal at the slightly bigger price. They face the easier qualifying semi-final against the Catalan Dragons and if they come through that will have the right to choose their opponents in the last four. The nature of the play-offs means shocks can occur though it is interesting to note that five of the last six Grand Finals have been contested between the sides who finished in the top two in the league.

Third in the market is St Helens who have the unenviable record of being the losing side in the Grand Final in each of the last five years. At 8/1 (general) the Saints may have their supporters as they have strong play-off experience and ended the season well winning seven of their last nine. They are capable of beating any of the top sides on their day and victory over Warrington would hand them home advantage. With most bookmakers paying a third the odds a place in the final a little interest in St Helens is also advised.

The masters of the Grand Final are Leeds who have won four of the last five including last year. This may come back to haunt me but surely the Rhinos can not do it again this year. Leeds only managed to qualify in fifth this year and know that they face an elimination game against Wakefield. Though you would expect the Rhinos to overcome their opponents they do not have the second chance that finishing in the top four would have allowed. Also they must do their work away from home. Those who disagree with me can get the defending Grand Final champions at 14/1 (ladbrokes).

Catalan Dragons are 20/1 (general) fifth favourites for glory. After finishing fourth Catalans are on the right side of the draw though will need to find ways to get results on the road. Hull at 60/1 (paddy Power), Huddersfield at 125/1 (paddy power) and Wakefield at 250/1 (totesports/betfred) complete the last eight.

Matches get underway this Friday (14th) with four teams in the qualifying play-offs and four in the elimination play-offs. The winners of the qualifying play-offs make the semi-finals while the losers face off against the winners of the elimination play-offs for a shot at the semi-finals. The opening game sees Wigan entertain Catalans and it is 1/4 (sportingbet) a Warriors win and 4/1 (general) a Dragons success. Warrington face a tricky looking game with St Helens with a place in the semi-finals at stake. These two sides split the regular season record 1-1 with the away side coming out on top on both occasions. This promises to be a close encounter and I like Saints to cover the handicap margin of ten points (evens bet365). The elimination matches see Leeds (2/9-general) up against Wakefield 4/1 (general). The other game sees Hull (5/11-BWin) playing host to Huddersfield (2/1-general). The prices on both those games look fair.


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