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Rhinos to Ransack Fortress JJB?
Posted by southstander on April 15 2005 - 08:28:28

Denis Betts must be wondering if there is something sinister in the Wigan water supply. Since taking over from Mike Gregory as Warriors supremo, the ex-GB star has been plagued by a series of serious injuries to key players at important times.

One thing which can't be blamed on the water is the defection of career-Wiganer Andy farrell to the 'dark side'. Perhaps he saw the writing on the wall for a Wigan club threatened with eviction from their stadium, and currently down to their last handful of first squad players.

But...beware the wounded Warrior!

Tony Smiths only aggrevation after last weeks demolition of the Broncos is the loss of Danny Ward to suspension. Wardy picked up a one-match ban for a high tackle in the first half of last weeks 64-06 win over London, and will be replaced by Wayne McDonald, back for another chance to prove himself.

The pre-game line-up has McGuire returning to stand-off to partner the impressive Rob Burrow, with Sinfield moving back to his normal loose-forward position after covering at half in Dannys absence. Lee Smith gets the call into the squad, but is likely to be eighteenth man.

Hansen, Godwin, Hargreaves, Colbon, Allen, Beswick, Melling and Coyle are hardly names which spring to mind when you think of Wigan Warriors, but according to our sister site Cherryandwhite.co.uk they are all in the Wigan squad that welcome the Rhinos to the JJB tonight. Betts will be delighted to welcome back both Denis Moran (after four weeks absence) and Terry Newton (stomach bug), but is without a number of key players in key positions. Guisset and SeuSeu have both been having a great season for the Cherry & Whites, but beyond that there is not really much fire power, Wigans strength is in a group of players who want to play for the club, and each other, modelled on the Rhinos current philosophy.

Recent wins over Saints and Hull have shown that this side has grit and determination, but the wheels came off last week with a loss at the Galpharm to the Giants. We can all have a blip, as we proved against Wakefield, but this is the Warriors sternest test of the season so far.

Three Weeeganers to watch;


'Cry Baby'
Newton

'Mercurial'
Moran

'Headhunter'
SeuSeu

It's almost two years since we recorded a win at the JJB, a 30-20 victory in May 2003. Last season we lost on our first visit, and drew the second 12-12 thanks to two McGuire tries. Wigan remain a bogey side for the Rhinos having taken three of the six points that we dropped in last years Superleague campaign.

The forecast is for the rain to clear up at tea-time and remain dry for the duration of the game. We'll be under cover in the North stand anyway, so there are no excuses for you not getting across to Wigan to cheer on the lads.

Southstander.com Prediction
Warriors 18 28 Rhinos

The bookies are giving Wigan an eight point start, but with the line-ups on show, I'd still be confident enough to back the Rhinos to overcome the handicap. Don't follow my tips with your betting though...I thought we'd hammer Wakefield. A better dabble might be Bai (10/1) or Calderwood (12/1) as first try scorer, although Ali Lauiti'iti isn't such a good looking prospect with his odds halved to 16/1 after opening the scoring last week.

I'm hoping for, and expecting a good following from Headingley to tonights game to cheer on the lads. It would be nice to think that we can fill the North stand, and on a sunday afternoon I'm sure that we would. The friday night drag across the M62 is a bit of a pain, but I'm sure that the two points will make it worthwhile.

Don't forget to take a look at Oldlady's Ground Guide to Wigan.

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