Last weeks sensational win over the Wolves must have restored all of the confidence that had been lost with the previous weeks loss against the Crusaders. We return to Headingley looking to start an unbeaten run which will take us all the way to Old Trafford, and to show the Saints what they are going to be up against at the Galpharm in a months time.
Despite returning to light training a week ago Ali, Burrow and Burgess are still not fit enough to be included in the nineteen. Add to this Watkins, Webb, Diskin and Leuluai and you can see how deep Bluey is having to dig into his youngsters. It's not ideal but it is fantastic experience for some of these stars of the future to be forced in at the deep end. The Rhinos ninteen is named as; Donald, Delaney, Senior, Hall, McGuire, Buderus, Peacock, Jones-Buchanan, Sinfield, Eastwood, Bailey, Kirke, Ablett, Pitts, Ambler, McShane, Bush, Clarkson, and Smith.
Some of Saints erratic form must be down to the announced departure of coach Potter at the end of the season and uncertainty on the behalf of the players as to whether they will form a part of the Saints side in 2011. Potter has his own injury problems with a long roll call of missing; Soliola (knee), Wilkin (shoulder), Fa'asavalu (shoulder), Wheeler (hamstring), Puletua (knee), and Cunningham (foot).
The absentees mean that the ninteen contains a number of names as unfamiliar as our own Bush, Clarkson and Ambler. Potters ninteen is; Wellens, Gardner, Gidley, Meli, Pryce, Eastmond, Fozzard, Graham, Flannery, Roby, Hargreaves, Moore, Clough, Ashurst, Dean, Dixon, Lomax, Emmitt, and Magennis.
As with the Rhinos there is still plenty of skill on show with Pryce, Eastmond (back from injury), Roby and Graham all more than capable of causing us a lot of problems.
Three Saints to watch;
When Leeds travelled to Knowsley Road earlier in the season we were totally outplayed as the Saints beat us 20-41. As on saturday Silverwood officiated that game which saw us taken apart by James Roby and kicked to death by Jamie Foster.
On Saints last visit to Headingley in 2009 the Rhinos won by 18-10 although the visitors did emerge victorious in the Challenge Cup fourth round match earlier in the season.
I am confident that the Rhinos will win the game, but I also expect a real roller-coaster with the lead changing hands throughout the eighty. Both sides score tries for fun alongside having uncharacteristically weak defences. There is the potential for a points fest. A win would get us within three points of Saints and if Bradford can beat FC then we could finish the weekend in fourth spot.
Leeds seem to have the measure of Saints when it rains, however, there is only a 10% chance of precipitation throughout the day tomorrow.
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Enjoy the game and keep everything crossed for a Rhinos win.