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After the Storm
Posted by southstander on March 05 2010 - 08:30:30

Big Mc
Are Leeds Rhinos a club in crisis?

An indifferent start to Superleague XV; the loss of Sinfield, Donald and Ablett through injury; Keith Senior charged by the RFL for comments in losing the World Club Challenge to fourteen man Melbourne Storm; and a Headingley pitch which is really only fit for planting turnips.

Tonight the Champions have to put all of that behind them and start the long journey to Old Trafford with a win over Brian McDermotts struggling Harlequins.

We preview the game here...

A forty-eight point winning margin for the visitors from London would see them finish the night above the Rhinos in the Superleague XV table, but it is three and a half years since anyone scored more than forty points against us, and almost fourteen years since we were defeated by forty-eight points or more (14-68 away at Wigan 9/9/1996). If results go for us a fifty-four point win could see us finish the weekend in second, now that would be more like it!

The loss of Sinfield is a big one, but hopefully he'll be back in the reckoning for next weeks trip to the Galpharm Stadium. Ablett shows no sign of returning and we now know that Scott Donald is going to be missing until we are well into ice cream weather. Delaney came through last weekends trip to Elland Road with flying colours which is a great relief and testament to the skills of the Rhinos medical staff. Peacock will captain a team which could contain debutante 20-year old winger Tom Bush, although he is unlikely to make the final seventeen. It will be interesting to see who fills the loose forward position as Bluey has several options, my money would be on JJB with Burgess making the seventeen. The nineteen is; Webb, Delaney, Senior, Hall, McGuire, Burrow, Leuluai, Buderus, Peacock, Jones-Buchanan, Lauiti'iti, Diskin, Eastwood, Bailey, Kirke, Burgess, Pitts, Watkins, and Bush. Pitts and Bush to two to miss out for me.

Brian McDermott returns to Headingley as coach of a demoralised side who just can't seem to get their season started. They have a -78 points difference, due mostly to a fifty-eight point nilling that they suffered at the hands of the Warrington Wolves. Their only win was a 16-4 victory over the Catalans Dragons and if it wasn't for the French sides abomination of a start to the season then the 'Quins would only have the Reds between them and the basement position.

The 'Quins have been plagued by early season injuries, added to with the names of Esders and Temata, neither of whom survived the trip to Hull FC last weekend. McDermott has called eighteen year old Olsi Krasniqi from the academy to bolster his squad named as; Bibb, Bolger, Bryan, Clubb, Golden, Howell, Jones-Bishop, Krasniqi, McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Melling, O'Callaghan, Orr, Randall, Sharp, Smith, Ward, Wilkes, Williams, and Williamson.

Perhaps the only hope for the 'Quins is that either the most hideous strip ever seen in Superleague will put the Rhinos off their game, or that on-loan Ben Jones-Bishop will have given the Londoners the 'golden key that unlocks all the doors'.

Three ex-Rhino Quins to watch;




Just to add to the interest and confusion Thierry Alibert is in the middle. The RFL must have looked at this game and seen such a big Leeds winning margin that the feckless Frenchman can't influence the destiny of the two points. With no video referee to help him it could well degenerate into anarchy.

In the correspnding fixture at Headinley in April 2009 the Harlequins gave the Rhinos a rugby league lesson and left with the two points thanks to a 21-4 win. Two months later, the last occasion that the two sides met, the Rhinos redressed the balance with a 48-14 win thanks to eight different try scorers. Prediction
Rhinos 36 8 Quins

I think that the Rhinos will be way too strong for the visitors, even without our talisman skipper and Aussie winger who scores tries for fun. Hoping for, and expecting, a big Rhinos win.

It's going to be cold, cold, cold with a chance of showers which could turn wintery. Fortunately a couple of drier days should have helped the pitch be less of a mud bath but with tonnes of sand on the surfance and almost no grass whatsoever the players from both sides will not be relishing going out there for a hard battle.

The Predicitions Prize Money thread for sponsors 'bet' is now on and would net the prize fund 100.44. The bookies have given the Quins a 20 point start on the handicaps, I think we'll better that.

See you there and enjoy the game.



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