Friday night’s Challenge Cup semi-final between Wigan Warriors and Hull FC is, on paper, one of the closest matches of the rugby league season, the same cannot be said of Saturday’s semi-final between Warrington Wolves and Wakefield Wildcats. There may only be three places between the two in the Super League table but the bookies’ odds suggest that we can all call this one for the Wolves. But, is it going to be that straight forward?
Let’s start by having a look at the comparative Challenge Cup pedigrees of the two clubs ahead of their meeting at Leigh Sports Village. Much like the odds, it is tilted very much towards Warrington. The Wire have tasted Challenge Cup glory on eight occasions in total with three of those wins coming inside of the last decade. You have to go back to 1963 for the last time that Trinity won the Challenge Cup (that was their fifth win) and this semi-final appearance is their first since 2008. That strengthens Warrington’s position as favourites but what about recent head to head matches?
During the regular Super League season it was one win apiece. Warrington won their home match 34-16 but that result was reversed in May when Wakefield ran out 36-28 winners. That muddies the waters somewhat. How can Warrington be available at best odds of 1/4 with BetVictor when they’ve already been beaten by Saturday’s opponents?
Well, Wakefield have major injury problems going into the match. While Warrington head coach Tony Smith has a relatively fit and healthy squad to pick from, his opposite number Chris Chester will be missing three of the players who started their last game against Castleford. There are also concerns over other players further limiting Trinity’s options.
It looks clear that Wakefield will require one of their best performances of the season to have any chance of booking a place in the final at Wembley. Warrington are the better side, have the pedigree and have had the better of the luck when it comes to keeping players fit. However, we’re not so sure about betting on Warrington at such a short price. Wakefield are, after all, coached by a man who has form when it comes to masterminding huge wins against the odds.
Chester was in charge of Hull KR last season when they beat Warrington in the Challenge Cup semi-final. Chester will once again be doing all he can to try and get his side over the line and for that reason it could well be worth leaving the winner market to one side and instead betting on Warrington winning only by a small margin. You can get odds of 9/4 with Ladbrokes about the Wolves winning by a margin of 1-12 points which is our first betting recommendation.
One potential route to profit from the injury issues that Wakefield are suffering is by betting on the second half to have more points than the first at 5/6 with Sky Bet. We think that this is going to be more competitive than the odds suggest but ultimately those in the Wakefield ranks will have very heavy legs in the latter stages, something the attacking players of Warrington should be able to exploit.
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