Round 1 predictions
The 2021 Betfred Super League kicks off on Friday with Champions St Helens taking on Salford Red Devils live on Sky Sports.
The 2021 Betfred Super League season starts on Friday with six mouth watering ties to get kick us off in round 1. We’ve taken on the unenviable task of predicting how each fixture will finish…
St Helens v Salford Red Devils
St Helens go into this game close to full strength – Morgan Knowles the only exemption from what would be a strongest possible 17. I would expect Sione Mata’utia to fill in for Knowles in what is a formidable looking Saints side.
Despite Salford’s impressive back line, I think they may come up short against the champions. What we’ve learned from Salford over recent years is that they don’t go away and will fight until the very death. Having no recognised hooker in their 21-man squad shouldn’t impede the Red Devils too much but, nevertheless, I can only see a Saints victory.
Prediction: Saints by 16
Leigh Centurions v Wigan Warriors
This is an interesting one. The Centurions have nothing to lose - they’ve been tipped to go straight back down this year by pretty much every pundit and won’t be expected to get past the 2020 League Leaders’ in round 1.
The Warriors side is depleted – especially across their back line. They are a relatively small squad compared to recent years, so don’t have an abundance of experience to fall back on. Being without Jackson Hastings and Bevan French will inevitably take its toll in attack, but the return of John Bateman will be a huge boost to their pack.
I think this one will go down to the wire with the Warriors having just enough to pull through.
Prediction: Warriors by 2
Wakefield Trinity v Leeds Rhinos
There hasn’t been much between Trinity and the Rhinos in their recent contests. In their last 10 Super League meetings, Rhinos have won 5, Trinity have won 4 and there’s been 1 draw. I think this will be no different and is a match that could go either way.
If the Rhinos are to win this, a lot will rely on the dominance of their forward pack. Trinity struggled for points last year so will be desperate for new signing Mason Lino to settle quickly alongside Jacob Miller.
It should be a fascinating contest, but I think the Rhinos will hold out for a win.
Prediction: Rhinos by 6
.@leedsrhinos new man Zane Tetevano 🦏🙌
A champ down under, will he be a champ with the Rhinos? 🏆 #SuperLeague #BeReady pic.twitter.com/YUCxvyM6Jh
— Betfred Super League (@SuperLeague) March 25, 2021
Catalans Dragons v Hull KR
The Dragons averaged the highest points scored per game last year whilst the Robins averaged the most points conceded. If that’s anything to go by, you can expect a high scoring game and plenty of points from the Dragons.
Tony Smith has been vocal about the need to fix up his sides defence and has brought in some grunt in the middle to improve it. Catalans have strike players all over the pitch - I wouldn't be surprised to see Sam Tomkins pushing for Man of Steel if he stays fit all year.
I think Catalans will have too much for Hull KR and will get off to a flying start in round 1.
Prediction: Dragons by 18
Hull FC v Huddersfield Giants
This one is a 50/50 toss-up. The Giants have recruited well and should be top 4 contenders this season. Hull FC haven’t changed much – but a new head coach will invigorate the squad and the addition of Josh Reynolds is a shrewd bit of business.
There are lots of exciting battles across the pitch – particularly the prospect of Ricky Leutele and Carlos Tuimavave facing off in the centres. But for me it's the battle between Aidan Sezer and Marc Sneyd in the halves which could prove to be most important – who can steer their side around the field and turn their opposition around with a pin-point kicking game?
My guess is as good as anyone’s but, with Josh Reynolds and Jake Connor to compliment Sneyd in Hull's spine, I think they may edge it.
Prediction: Hull FC by 1
Castleford Tigers v Warrington Wolves
An intriguing fixture to finish the round, these two sides played in a couple of thrilling contests when they met in Super League last year.
Having Jack Hughes and Mike Cooper available will be huge for the Wolves go forward – Daryl Clark is at his devastating best playing behind a quick ruck. Blake Austin and Gareth Widdop's combination will be vital if the Wolves are to challenge this year.
Castleford will be sweating on Danny Richardson’s fitness but have the luxury of Gareth O’Brien as a ready replacement. The inclusion of Niall Evalds in their 2021 squad - along with a fit again Jake Trueman and Man of Steel Paul McShane - makes their spine an extremely dangerous threat.
This is another tricky guess, but I think the Wolves will scrape a victory.
Prediction: Wolves by 2
You can see how many predictions we get right (or wrong) when the action begins on Friday live on Sky Sports.