Super League’s annual Magic Weekend rolls into Newcastle on May 19 for two days and seven games of hard-hitting rugby league action. The 12 Super League clubs, accompanied for the first time by Championship sides Toronto Wolfpack and Toulouse Olympique, will grace the turf of Newcastle United’s St James’ Park over the weekend.
It’s a yearly event as crowds gather in the sun and party atmosphere of the north-east to watch a feast of tries, tackles and big hits. This year’s Magic Weekend will be the 12th time it has been staged, the fourth in the city of Newcastle. Cardiff, Edinburgh and Manchester have all hosted the event since it was first held in 2017.
Wigan Warriors, 8/11 with Ladbrokes, have played in every Magic Weekend to date and have the best record. They have played 11 times at the event, with seven wins, two draws and just two losses.
Surprisingly Huddersfield Giants have the second-best record with seven wins, one draw and three defeats from 11 fixtures, followed by the Castleford Tigers with seven wins and three losses from 10 appearances, the Warrington Wolves with six wins, one draw and four defeats from 11 appearances, and Hull Kingston Rovers with six victories and four losses from 10 matches.
Defending Super League champions Leeds Rhinos have won six of their 11 Magic Weekend appearances. St Helens have won five from 11, with one draw and five losses, while Catalans Dragons have won four from 11, with one draw and six defeats, and Salford Red Devils have only managed four victories from 10 appearances.
Widnes Vikings have the worst record with just two wins from six Magic Weekend visits, followed by Wakefield Trinity and Hull FC both with four victories from 11 appearances. Both Toronto and Toulouse will be making their debuts this year.
The first Super League match-up on Saturday is between neighbours Widnes, 8/1 with Paddy Power, and St Helens. Justin Holbrook’s team will be big favourites in this one, especially considering their recent form, their Man of Steel contender Ben Barba and the Vikings’ large injury concerns. Widnes have won just three Super League games.
Following that will be two high-flyers in Wigan against Warrington – arguably the pick of the weekend. The Warriors are second on the ladder while the Wolves are on fire and have won their past 10 matches in a row. The 2016 Super League grand finalists always play out engaging, entertaining fixtures between them. Warrington edged the victory the last time they met this year, so Wigan will be out for revenge.
Sunday finishes with last year’s two grand finalists Castleford going head to head with Leeds are 6/5 to win at top rugby betting sites. These bitter Yorkshire foes share a long history and rivalry. In March the pair played out a thrilling encounter at Elland Road, where the Tigers prevailed by just a point.
Castleford are missing several key players, including star halfback Luke Gale, so the advantage is slightly with the Rhinos. Sunday opens with Salford taking on Catalans. The Dragons are bottom of the ladder while the Red Devils are struggling but in eighth position. There is little to separate the two of them in what should be a very tight match that could go either way.
Similarly, both Wakefield and Huddersfield are even-matched. The two played a week ago in the Challenge Cup and the Giants knocked Trinity off, surprising many. Wakefield are renowned for their inconsistency this season, being wonderful one week and dreadful the next, but may need a win to keep their hopes for a top four spot alive.
Magic Weekend closes with the Hull derby as Hull KR face Hull FC. Both teams have been hit hard by injuries, particularly the Black & Whites. This derby clash is always fierce and fiery, and usually too close to call.
Ladbrokes have St Helens 1/14, Warrington 6/5, Castleford 11/8 and Leeds 8/13. On Sunday they have Salford 5/6 and Catalans evens, Wakefield 4/7 and Huddersfield 7/5, with Hull KR 2/1 and Hull FC 2/5.
William Hill have Widnes at 7/1 and St Helens 1/12, Wigan 10/11 and Warrington 11/10, Castleford 6/5 and Leeds 4/6. On Sunday they have Salford and Catalans both at evens, Wakefield at 4/6 and Huddersfield 6/5, and Hull KR 2/1 and Hull FC 2/5.
Generally there is not much value in picking mere winners, though Leeds to defeat Castleford, is worth consideration. There is more value in picking the margins, particularly when it comes to matches such as St Helens and Widnes. Saints are top of Super League and have only lost two matches all season.
They have already beaten the Vikings once this year – 28-6 in April – and will be heavily tipped to win again on Saturday. William Hill has St Helens at 9/1 to win by a margin of one to five points, and at 11/2 to either win by a margin of 11 to 15, or 21 to 25 points. Those 11/2 odds are particularly attractive.
The margins for Leeds to beat Castleford are also worth a look. William Hill has the Rhinos 9/1 to defeat the Tigers by one to five points, 5/1 to win by six to 10 points, and 13/2 for them to win by 11 to 15 points. On the flip-side, the longer shot of a Castleford win by one to five points is at 11/2.