Wolves to kill Rhinos and Hodgson to star at Wembley

Challenge Cup

Rugby League
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Published: 25/08/2012

Leeds has drifted in Challenge Cup final betting ever since it was announced that Rhinos halfback Danny McGuire would miss the championship game and it is difficult to see the Rhinos beating Warrington without their key playmaker.

The Rhinos have blown out from around 7-4 to around 5-2, with bookmakers tipping that Brian McDermott`s team will lose by eight points to the Wolves at Wembley Stadium.

Handicap betting is the bread and butter of rugby league punters and, at the general line, Warrington makes more appeal than Leeds, who is likely to miss McGuire badly.

That is no hunch, either. The Wolves and the Rhinos have met twice in Super League this season and the results indicate what will probably happen in the Challenge Cup decider.

Leeds defeated Warrington 26-18 at the Headingley Carnegie Stadium in April, thereby becoming the first side to get the better of Tony Smith`s team in the Super League this term. But the Rhinos had everything fall their way on a wet night in Yorkshire, with the Wolves unfortunate to lose despite playing away from home without three of their stars.

Chris Bridge and two of Warrington`s Australian imports, Brett Hodgson and Michael Monaghan, missed the Headingley Carnegie Stadium match but it was only in the final quarter that Leeds kicked away from its opponent, Rhinos hooker Liam Hood capitalising a rare defensive blunder by Wolves halfback Richard Myler to score the game-winning try.

On another night, Warrington would have been well ahead at half time in spite of its selection problems. And well ahead at half time was what the Wolves were when the sides met in the reverse fixture at the Halliwell Jones Stadium in June.

Warrington produced a stunning first-half display, crossing for five tries in the opening 28 minutes, all converted by Hodgson, to open up a 30-0 lead. Leeds, without McGuire, could not live with Smith`s team who, despite taking its foot of the gas in the second period, triumphed 37-18.

Therefore, back the Wolves to win the Challenge Cup for the eighth time and do so emphatically, covering the eight-point spread. With the Rhinos unable to call upon McGuire, there should be a double-figure handicap line in operation.

One of the great things about the Challenge Cup final is the betting market on the man of the match, otherwise known as the Lance Todd Trophy. Awarded since 1946, 10 players from losing sides have won the prize but, clearly, it makes sense to focus on players on the team one fancies to win the game.

Key-position players - fullbacks, five-eighths, halfbacks, hookers and locks - dominate the Lance Todd Trophy honour roll and, with Warrington stars Lee Briers and Michael Monaghan having received the award in 2009 and 2010 respectively, take a punt on Hodgson at around 7-1.

A New South Wales representative in 2002, National Rugby League Premiership winner with Wests Tigers in 2005 and Super League Man of Steel in 2009, Hodgson is integral to Warrington`s attacking moves and, as an added bonus, kicks goals for the Wolves. If the favourites run away with the Challenge Cup final, Hodgson could score a huge amount of points and stand out as a Lance Todd Trophy contender.

Bookmakers have got Hodgson as the 7-1 second favourite for the man-of-the-match prize and those look like good odds.


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