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The Hard Graft Continues
Posted by southstander on May 01 2014 - 08:16:28

Skipper to Hooker
After last weeks top-of-the-table Cup clash with Saints, the big challenges just keep on coming.

Friday nights challenge takes the form of Wigan Warriors and is quickly followed by a trip to Castleford and a second game against the Warriors, this time at the City of Manchester Stadium.

It's a four week period which could make or break our season and we'll have to do it all without one of our major play-makers as Rob Burrow has been ruled our for up to ten weeks with a fractured collar bone.

We preview the game, read more here...

Leeds get the chance to measure their form against last seasons double winners. After a couple of early season blips, against Huddersfield and Castleford, the Warriors are finding their form and come in to Round 11 on the back of an impressive demolition of Saints and a massive cup win over Dewsbury.

In place Burrow, Brian McDermott welcomes back Stevie Ward, who suffered an injury against Bradford, and Ben Jones-Bishop and Ryan Bailey who were both rested last week.

The majority of the team selection interest is focussed on the 'hooking' dilemma. It is likley that Sinfield will move to the front row, a position he has played before, with Sutcliffe or Ward partnering McGuire in the halves. With McDermott though, expect the unexpected.

The nineteen is named as; Hardaker, Jones-Bishop, Watkins, Moon, Hall, McGuire, Leuluai, Peacock, Ablett, Sinfield, Ward, Delaney, Bailey, Kirke, Clarkson, Achurch, Briscoe, Sutcliffe, and Singleton.

It's impossible to know which two the boss will leave out, but you can be sure that the seventeen he ends up with will be the strongest seventeen he believes that he can field.

Rumours abound of Shaun Wane's end of season departure for a new challenge down under and you can hardly blame him after last years double made him the hottest coaching ticket in the game. Many suggested that the loss of so many stars, including the much maligned Sam Tomkins, would hurt the Warriors this season but they are still right there in the mix and you write them off at your peril.

Wane does have some injury worries and is without the services of Charnley, Flower, Thornley and Pettybourne but he does have the luxury of welcoming back a host of first teamers who were rested for last weeks Challenge Cup formality. Back in the side after a weeks rest come; Greem O'Loughlin, McIlorum and Goulding.

Wane's ninteen is; Bateman, Bowen, Burgess, Clubb, Crosby, Dudson, L Farrell, Gelling, Goulding, Green,, Hughes, James, McIlorum, O'Loughlin, Powell, Sarginson, Smith, Taylor, and Williams.

This will be the forty-third regular round meeting between the two sides since the advent of Superleague and the Rhinos trail slightly with seventeen wins against the Warriors twenty-one, with four matches having been drawn.

The two sides met four times last season. The Rhinos won the two regular league fixtures with an 18-14 win at Headingley and a 20-6 win at the DW. In the Magic Weekend game at the City of Manchester Stadium it was the Warriors who grabbed a narrow 16-20 victory and, of course, it was the Warriors who ended the Rhinos season with a 12-22 win the Grand Final Eliminator.

The last time that Wigan won at Headingley was back in 2012 when they humiliated us by 8-50. Prediction
Rhinos 24 20 Warriors

The bookies have made the Rhinos slight favourites for the win and given the Warriors a four point start on the coupon. I suspect that they won't be too far off the mark. It will undoubtedly be a titanic battle and should be a great spectacle for the TV audience.

The forecast for tomorrow is looking a lot better than today with partial cloud and only a ten percent chance of rain. There will be a chill in the air, perfect conditions for a great game of rugby.

Travel safe, enjoy the match and keep your fingers crossed for the win...

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