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The Hub Cap Final
Posted by southstander on September 04 2009 - 09:27:27

Crunch Time
When the fixture schedule was published late last year there was one fixture which leapt out of the page as potential 'game of the season', and this is it!

The top two sides for the last two seasons clashing in the second last game of the regular season with all to play for, it is a broadcasters dream and SKY will be filling their boots tonight with talk of a Grand Final dress rehearsal.

Headingley will be packed for what should be an absolute belter.

We preview the game here...

Both sides will have benefitted from the week off with chance to take a few days rest before the storm of the play-offs. Coaches McClennan and Potter will have been watching tapes, consulting assistants, and scheming late into the night in a quest to beat their opposite number and secure the 'hubcap'. Most parts of the ground are already sold out and by eight o'clock it will be packed to the rafters.

Mick Potter will be delighted at the return of Fa'asavalu to his ninteen along with Kyle Eastmond (one of the hottest prospects in the game and a player I wish was in Blue & Amber) and Bryn Hargreaves. Jon Wilkin is, however, unavailable. Sean Long is playing what could be his last game in the 'Red Vee' at Headingley and with a handful of the nineteen being recent returnees from injury it looks like a squad that is not 100%. Potters ninteen are; Wellens, Gardner, Gidley, Meli, Pryce, Long, Cunningham, Graham, Gilmour, Wilkin, Flannery, Roby, Hargreaves, Puletua, Clough, Eastmond, Fa'asavalu, Dixon, and Emmitt.

The Leeds treatment room now only has one regular, Danny Buderus, as Ian Kirke and Carl Ablett make it back into the nineteen after recovering from injuries. Scott Donald is also available after shaking off a groin injury picked up in training. We know Buderus will play no further part in 2009 so we are at our strongest that we can be for tonights game. Blueys ninteen is; Webb, Donald, Smith, Senior, Hall, McGuire, Burrow, Leuluai, Peacock, Jones-Buchanan, Lauitiiti, Sinfield, Diskin, Bailey, Kirke, Ablett, Burgess, Worrall, and Ratu.

I'd expect that Worrall and Ratu will be the two to miss out but McClennan may be including Kirke in the squad to ease him back in and he could play no part until we visit the Willows next weekend. Hall (leading by 9 tries) and Sinfield (leading by 15 goals) will be looking to keep at the top of their respective tables.

Three Saints to watch;




We played against the Saints five time last season. Honours were shared in the league with the Rhinos winning at Knowsley Road and Saints picking up the two points at Headingley. Saints also took the spoils at the Galpharm in the 26-16 win over us in the Challenge Cup Semi-final.

The other two meetings were in the end of season play-offs when Saints comprehensively beat us at Knowsley Road before we went on to win in the most important game of the season, the Grand Final after a humdinger of a game at Old Trafford.

We've played them twice so far this season and lost on both occasions. We went down by eight points in Round 6 of Superleague at Knowsley Road and then lost by four in the fourth round of the Challenge Cup. It's payback time to get that hubcap back off them!

In the last couple of games Leeds have won by an aggregate of 144-12 while Saints have lost to Hull FC and only just scraped a two point win over the Huddersfield Giants youth team. Prediction
Rhinos 28 14 Saints

On recent form this game should be ours for the taking but against Saints you can throw the form book out of the window. We need to stop Long, Pryce, Cunningham and Eastmond getting a foot hold and running the game and if these four are quiet the points are ours.

The forecast for tonight is lousy with a good chance of rain and strong gusting winds throughout the game. Not the best conditions but these two sides can both handle them and give us a real spectacle. Be thankful if you have a seat neat the back of the stands, tuck yourself well under the SouthStand roof and spare a thought for those getting drenched on the Western Terrace.

The bookies have given the Saints a six point start on the coupon but I am hopeful that we can overcome that and if we play as well and fluently as we have done against Castleford and the Crusaders then we should win at a canter.

See you there, enjoy the game.



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