Warrington Wolves vs. Leeds Rhinos Betting Tips: A tight encounter expected to kick Super League off
The Super League is officially back on Thursday night and two of the biggest names in the competition collide to kick things off.
Last season Warrington beat Leeds away in round 1 but finished the season in a rotten 11th place, their worst top flight finish in history.
The Rhinos, despite that opening day defeat, went on to make the Grand Final, only denid another title by the all conquering Saints.
Both teams will be keen to start the year with a bang and Billy Grimshaw is on hand to provide us with a preview of the game and a couple of tips...
Warrington Wolves vs. Leeds Rhinos Odds
The Daryl Powell era at Warrington could hardly have started any worse, with the former Castleford boss crossing the Pennines and swiftly dividing the dressing room and dragging a perennial top four contender into a relegation dogfight.
Powell somehow survived the debacle that was 2022 at the Halliwell Jones and has been backed extensively in recruitment terms over the off-season to mould a squad in his image. There can be no excuses for the Wire in 2023 or their coach will not survive to see Easter.
Leeds began last season in similarly dismal form to their hosts but instead of sticking with their coach, they opted to twist and relieved Richard Agar of his duties and appointed Rohan Smith.
The nephew of legendary former Leeds and Warrington coach Tony Smith oversaw an immediate transformation and made the Rhinos the in-form team heading into the play-offs. Their journey from basement dwellers to champions was only halted by the dominant St Helens side who made it four in a row.
The pressure is certainly on the home side as 2023 begins and as such we fancy them to fly out of the traps.
Warrington Wolves vs. Leeds Rhinos Tips
Last season one of the highlights of the whole season was seeing Wigan Warriors' lightning fast full back Jai Field light up the Super League pitches with his blistering pace and long range tries.
Australian speedsters Field and teammate Bevan French struggled for game time in the NRL due to their size but with the more relaxed defensive structures on these shores players of their profile, small and speedy, thrive in Super League.
Warrington recruited Matt Dufty midway through 2022 and the raid full back wasted little time in making an impression on the league with a four try haul on debut.
Dufty recorded faster speeds than Field or French over in Australia and if one thing frightens defences in rugby league it is raw pace. He is my tentative pick for Man Of Steel (see my thinking here in the full season preview)
With a full pre-season under his belt and acclimatisation now complete Warrington fans and neutrals alike will be hoping to see the best of Dufty consistently in the number one jersey for the Primrose and Blue and I would expect him to be there or thereabouts when it comes to handing out the top tryscorer gong and indeed the Man Of Steel if he has an uninterrupted season.
The Aussie being available to back for a try at odds against in the season opener looks too big a price to ignore and for our main bet we will be taking Dufty to cross for a four pointer anytime at 11/8 with bet365.
I will also be backing him to score first, last, a brace and a hat trick of tries to small stakes but for tipping purposes we will stick with just the main wager on Dufty scoring in the Super League kick-off game.
For a longshot punt in this first game of the season I think the draw looks a smart play in the match result market.
At 22/1, this price slightly underestimates the chance of these two teams cancelling each other out and the match heading into Golden Point extra-time just like the England and Samoa RLWC semi-final did last winter.
In the first game of last season these sides clashed and just two points handed Warrington the win at Headingley after a late Connor Wrench try broke Rhinos' hearts.
The teams look very evenly matched on paper, with Warrington's new look pack certainly matching up to the Rhinos' forwards and the backs seemingly cancelling each other out. George Williams was a man possessed for England in the World Cup and if he hits the ground running with new half back partner Josh Drinkwater they could have a fruitful season.
Leeds go into another season with best buddies Blake Austin and Aidan Sezer at 6 and 7, but in pre-season the duo have been attempting (with limited success) to switch sides and confuse he defenders facing them.
With the potential for rain this could be a low scoring affair in Warrington and with the concerns over both sides' attacking fluency, a draw looks a smart play in this market and hopefully we will get to see the first Golden Point period of 2023 in the very first game!