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Silence of the Giants
Posted by southstander on July 10 2008 - 21:26:35

Plays

Q: When does a blip become a crisis?

A: When you lose to the Huddersfield Giants at Headingley to make it just one win in the last five.

This is what a Rhinos side, led by 'Lazarus' Sinfield, will be looking to avoid, and to get the season back on track as we hurtle towards a trip to third placed Catalan Dragons, the semi-final against Saints, and the all important play-offs.

We preview the game here...

After being prepared for Kevin Sinfield missing the rest of the season, the skipper returns after just eight minutes on the sidelines, crucially the only time this season when his impeccible kicking skills were really required. The knee injury which was first diagnosed a medial knee ligaments turned out to be nothing and he's been declared fit for the visit of a Giants side who last week slayed the Bulls at the Galpharm, a rare occurence indeed.

Not only is Sinfield fit, but we welcome back Clinton Toopi for his first game since a sorry exit from the World Club Challenge on the 29th February. With Leeds looking increasingly fragile in defence this will be a big boost to the side. Ali will be celebrating his new two year Headingley contract as a Rhinos side almost back to full strength takes to the field. Blueys nineteen is; Webb, Donald, Toopi, Senior, Smith, McGuire, Burrow, Leuluai, Diskin, Peacock, Jones-Buchanan, Ellis, Sinfield, Lauitiiti, Bailey, Ablett, Hall, Burgess, and Allan. I'd expect Allan and Hall or Ablett to miss out.

The Giants are coachless since the sacking of Sharp last month but if anything it seems to have had a positive effect on the side. The Giants have won two out of their last four including last weeks sweet win over the Bulls, but the have taken hammerings at the hands of Catalan and Saints and will probably be fearful of the Rhinos JJB backlash on friday night.

The nineteen includes Chris 'hannibal' Thorman, cleared of deliberate biting by the disciplinary on Tuesday night along with plenty of other players who could punish a below par Leeds. The squad is; Thorman, Aspinwall, Elford, Whaturia, K. Brown, Robinson, Raleigh, Wild, Jones, Jackson, Mason, Snitch, Griffin, Hudson, Hemingway, Cudjoe, Lawrence, Jensen, and Kirmond.

Three Giants to watch;


'Rocket'

'Slugger'

'Hannibal'

The Rhinos have lost twice to the Giants in the Superleague era, but never at Headingley. The home side won 30-24 at the McApline (as was) in Superleague VIII, and then they beat us in the most humiliating fashion at Odsal in the Challenge Cup semi-final in 2006. Leeds won easily in the only meeting so far this season at the Galpharm by 30-10 and on their last visit to Headingley in the bleak mid-winter of March 2007 we won by a narrow 16-12 with the same starting thirteen I'd expect to see tomorrow night.

Southstander.com Prediction
Rhinos 42 12 Giants

I am looking for a massive Rhinos bounce back from last weeks disappointment and a showing to put our quest for the remaining three trophies of the season right back on track. We need a big win against the tenth placed side to take us to the south of France with the confidence that we won't be ending that game in third place. This is the one where we'll rediscover the style.

The bookies haven't put the odds up yet but I'd expect Leeds to be handicapped by 12 to 14 points. If this is the case then lump on the Rhinos.

The forecast looks like rain all the way with a high chance of those not under cover getting a drenching.

Don't forget to put your predictions up, and enjoy the game.

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