After getting several first teamers back for thursday nights fightback draw against the Bulls, Leeds include Carl Ablett within the ninteen named for the trip to the south of France, ahead of Clarkson. Lee Smith retains his place in the nineteen after his two-try heroics on thursday and therefore Jay Pitts also stays at home.
We are starting to look more like a Superleague challenging side in terms of names, we just need to put one great performance together on-field, and tonight could be the night.
Bluey has named his nineteen as; Webb, Delaney, Senior, Hall, McGuire, Burrow, Leuluai, Buderus, Jones-Buchanan, Lauitiiti, Sinfield, Diskin, Bailey, Kirke, Ablett, Burgess, Ambler, Bush, and Smith. Of these I expect that Bush and Ambler will be the two omitted from the starting line-up, providing Ablett truly is fit.
Kevin Walters welcomes back forwards Remi Casty, David Ferriol and Cyril Gossard, who all missed the Good Friday 48-6 hammering by the Giants. The Dragons side just hasn't clicked at all this season. A shock 16-10 win over Hull KR in their last home game, and a not-such-a-shock win over Salford Reds are all that the French side have to show from their nine games this season.
The Dragons have named a ninteen of; Bell, Pelo, Bosc, Ferriol, McGuire, Guisset, Mounis, Johnson, Gossard, Carlaw, Touxagas, K. Bentley, Martins, Fakir, Casty, Gigot, Stacul, Simon, and Vaccari. It is a side who, like the Rhinos, should really be doing a lot better than they are.
Three Dragons to watch;
Leeds come into the game having srambled just one point out of the last eight on offer, while the Dragons have fared slightly better with two points from the same possible eight. On paper it isn't the kind of game that you'd have expected SKY to be showing, but when they picked their opening rounds games no-one would have predicted that these two sides would be fighting it out in the bottom half of the table.
If Nobbys Crusaders can get one over on the Bulls (fingers crossed) and the Harlequins can manage the impossible of a win over the Robins, then we could make a lofty seventh place by the end of the Easter Monday fixtures. If results go right for the Dragons, they could make it up to tenth, and then their season could really begin.
Is it really only six months (almost to the day) that the Rhinos and the Dragons fought out that classic play-off semi-final at Headingley which saw the Rhinos into their third consective Grand Final with a narrow 27-20 win? The last time we played in France we lost by 30-32 when we lost to a last gasp Dragons try. We did win three out of four last year, including the 36-16 at Murrayfield and the 42-14 win at Headingley.
The last time we won in France was by 37-24 in July 2008, a repeat of that result would do very nicely.
Leeds are bad, but the Dragons are worse. There can only really be one outcome to this match and the bookies are giving the home side a twelve point start on the coupon. I can see Leeds bettering this and last thursdays draw will have boosted confidence as our stars start to return to the side and to fitness. Some of the more experienced players can now start to pass back some responsibility to their retruning team mates and hopefully be able to concentrate more on their own games.
Its a nice spring day in Perpignan with no chance of rain before or during the game and teperatures in the mid-teens. Ideal for the open, flowing rugby league which we love.
The Predicitions Prize Money thread for sponsors 'bet' is now on and would net the prize fund over £86.
Enjoy the game.