Many rugby league fans felt that the Castleford Tigers were hard done by in 2017. The club were forced to exclude Zak Hardaker from their Grand Final squad and the Tigers went on to lose to the Leeds Rhinos at Old Trafford. But the 2017 campaign has now been and gone; it is time to focus on the upcoming season. Who will prevail in 2018? We’ve looked at a few of the leading contenders for Grand Final glory…
The defending champions will open the 2018 campaign against the Warrington Wolves and Brian McDermott’s side will be quietly confident of getting off to the best possible start. In the Grand Final, Leeds were resolute and stubborn in defence whilst imaginative and full of flair in attack. Fans will be expecting more of the same in the coming months…
In the 2017 regular season, Leeds finished with the fourth best offensive record and fourth best defensive record – McDermott will be demanding an improved effort next year. Leeds will take some stopping if they can emulate their Grand Final performance for the most part of the 2018 campaign.
Wigan have the tools needed to succeed at Super League’s top table and their recent record against England’s biggest clubs is fantastic. At the time of writing, the Warriors are priced at 7/2 in the latest rugby league odds available – plenty of punters will be backing Wigan to go all the way to Old Trafford.
Arguably the most disappointing club in Super League this year, Wigan have the chance to redeem themselves in 2018. Shaun Wane’s side cannot afford to start slowly though, and the Warriors must negotiate a difficult run of fixtures to start the campaign. Oh, and Wigan also have a tough trip to Australia to contend with.
We couldn’t talk about Wigan without mentioning St Helens, could we? Whilst Wigan have the better record in head-to-head encounters, Saints have been the more dominant side in the modern era. Finishing above Wigan and in the playoff spots will be the number one aim for the Super League giants.
— St.Helens R.F.C. (@Saints1890) December 4, 2017
Defensively, Saints were outstanding in 2017. Allowing just 420 points in the opening round of fixtures, Justin Holbrook’s side were very consistent and the 2014 Grand Final champions will be expecting to challenge for glory this year. Injuries hurt their chances in 2017 and a bit of luck could swing the Super League race.
Daryl Powell’s men were sublime in 2017 but fell short at the decisive moment. You could argue that their disappointing effort in the Grand Final came down to a lack of experience but that excuse won’t stick next year. Winning the biggest prizes on offer is a must for the Tigers in 2018; the fans deserve another successful year.
Scoring points came easy to Castleford last season. The Tigers notched 769 points – almost 200 more than Salford, the second highest scorers. At the other end, Castleford were mean. Again, they conceded just 378 points; the greatest record in Super League. A similar effort this year will see the Tigers return to the Grand Final.
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