We are now two weeks away from the opening night of the 2018 Super League season and all eyes will be on defending champions Leeds Rhinos as they look to assert their dominance at the top of the table.
Brian McDermott’s men will head to the Halliwell Jones Stadium for a tasty clash with the Warrington Wolves on February 1st – and that could set the tone for another entertaining campaign.
Leeds, priced at 11/2 to retain their title in 2018, celebrated another Old Trafford success back in October but many punters believed that the Castleford Tigers deserved to emerge victorious… and you’d have to make them right.
After losing just three of their 23 regular season fixtures, Daryl Powell’s side were 10 points clear at the top of the Super League ladder going into the Super 8s and most rugby league fans expected the Tigers to reach the Grand Final.
Castleford matched Leeds in the Super 8s, winning five of their seven fixtures. During that particular run, the Tigers secured a 38-24 victory over the Rhinos – a result that sent plenty of shockwaves across Super League.
Castleford scored more points (965) than any of their rivals last year whilst only St Helens (518) had allowed fewer points than the Tigers (536) by the end of the Super 8s. Ask any Tigers fan and Super League’s showpiece is the main aim for the upcoming season but a trip to Wembley for the Challenge Cup final wouldn’t go amiss.
Castleford reached the final in 2014 but came up short against Leeds – the Tigers last won the competition in 1986 and fans will be hoping for silverware in 2018. Currently priced at 5/1 to win the Challenge Cup in 888sport’s betting markets, Powell’s men can advance far with a bit of luck…
Heading into the Grand Final, Tigers fans were confident. Castleford had won their previous eight Super League games against Leeds but the Old Trafford showpiece is a fixture like no other.
Whether it was simply down to inexperience or Castleford having an off day, Powell’s side scored just six points as Leeds cruised to victory. The Tigers will bounce back though, a return to the summit looks likely in 2018.
Losing on the big stage can have an adverse effect on a team but Castleford are made of stern stuff and Powell has instilled a strong mentality at the Mend-A-Hose Jungle.
Prior to October’s defeat, the Tigers had averaged over 40 points in their last five games against Leeds. 4/1 for Castleford to bounce back and win the Grand Final this time around is a solid price considering their talented roster.
*Odds subject to change - correct at time of writing*