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The Quiet Before the Storm
Posted by southstander on February 26 2010 - 13:39:58

McGuire v. Slater
Sunday evening will see the eyes of the rugby league world focussed on Elland Road as the best of the Northern and Southern Hemispheres smash head-on in the World Club Challenge.

Leeds Rhinos take on Melbourne Storm for the title of the Worlds best club side and national pride is at stake.

We preview the game here...

Leeds have had what can only be described as a disappointing start to the season. Unexpected losses to Castleford and Wakefield have only been made bearable by picking up the points, albeit unconvincingly, against the Crusaders and City Reds. With news that Scotty Donald is out for up to three months requiring surgery on his shoulder after dislocating it last friday night, its great that Brett Delaney has passed a fitness test and is available for sunday, easing the crisis in the backs.

Kallum Watkins is likely to get the start in place of Donald and we could be faced with playing JJB in the centres should Delaney not be fit enough to figure. Burgess is likely to get a recall after missing the last fortnight and we will be praying that the likes of Sinfield, McGuire and Burrow can turn in their best performances of the season to give us any glimmer of hope of bringing home the silverware.

Bluey has named his nineteen as; Webb, Delaney, Senior, Hall, McGuire, Burrow, Leuluai, Buderus, Peacock, Jones-Buchanan, Lauiti'iti, Sinfield, Diskin, Eastwood, Bailey, Kirke, Burgess, Pitts, Watkins. I'd guess that Pitts and Burgess will be the two to miss out.

Melbourne might be faced with another Elland Road Storm but it can't possibly be as bad as the one that they faced when they last faced us in the World Club Challenge back in 2008. They have brought a strong squad to England and have been here for over a week to get acclimatised taking on and beating the Harlequins last weekend in their warm-up game.

They are without Cooper Cronk, and Brett White from the side that beat Paramata in the 2009 Aussie Grand Final but Greg Inglis is fully fit following a hip injury and Jeff Lima is likely to figure after missing out on the game in London last weekend.

Coach Craig Bellamy has delayed naming his nineteen as he has a couple of injuries and he is waiting until the last possible moment. He will undoubtedly have an enviable set of players to choose from with Slater, Inglis and Smith all likely to play piviotal roles. If the Storm turn it on there is a chance we could get blown away.

Two teams ready for battle;

This is the Rhinos fourth World Club Challenge. In 2005 we beat the Canterbury Bulldogs by 39-32 in a thriller. Two years ago we beat the Storm by 11-4 in dreadful conditions and last year we lost to Manly Sea Eagles by 20-28. This Melbourne side still contains many of the players that lost in the 'Elland Road Hurricane' of 2008 and will be wanting to exact their own revenge.

We learned this week that Gary Hetherington has promised the lads the prize money should we pick up the trophy and with 50,000 up for grabs that is just under three grand a man, equating to 36.76 a minute, or 61p a second. Surely incentive enough, but do we have the quality, resilience and confidence? Only if Bluey has pulled a masterstroke by lulling the Storm with our poor opening league performances.

Southstander.com Prediction
Rhinos 12 22 Storm

Sundays forecast is for light rain and temperatures above freezing but with our changeable weather at the moment you never can tell.

The Predicitions Prize Money thread for sponsors 'bet' is now on and would net the prize fund over 811 as we have taken one handicap draw on the Wakefield game. The bookies have given the Rhinos a two point start on the handicapping and I really doubt that this will be enough.

See you there, enjoy the game, and keep everything crossed for the lads.

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