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Leeds Embark on Cup Crusade
Posted by southstander on May 06 2011 - 07:28:21

Tough Ask
It's just twelve days since the Rhinos welcomed Iestyn Harris and his Crusaders to Headingley for a Superleague match which saw the Rhinos cruise to a comfortable 34-16 win.

Since that encounter the Rhinos have gone on to thrash the Tigers while the Crusaders were on the receiving end of a beating at the hands of Wigan Warriors. But saturday is all about the excitement of the Challenge Cup, a one-off, where form can count for nothing.

We preview the game, read more here...

With the bookies giving the visitors a twenty point start in the handicapping you could be forgiven for thinking that the BBC had made a bit of a blunder in selecting this game for the televisual delight of the nation but there are some interesting and intrigueing sub-plots to tantalise the neutral and convince them to do some channel hopping on their armchair saturday afternoon as they seek to get at least some value out of the exorbitant TV license fee.

Kallum Watkins is now on the long-term injury list along with Ben Jones-Bishop and to a lesser extent Ali Lauiti'iti. Ben Cross has paid the price for some below average performances and I am beginning to wonder whether there is another Ben Cross playing in Australia, the one that we meant to buy.

Big Mac can still not find a place for ex-Crusader Weller Hauraki who seems totally out of favour, and out of confidence. Lee Smith is named in the nineteen as he makes his latest comeback from injury, as it looks increasingly like his stint over on the 'dark side' has broken him. Bailey, Buderus and Pitts are also named in the nineteen of; Webb, Smith, Delaney, Senior, Hall, McGuire, Burrow, Leuluai, Buderus, Peacock, Jones-Buchanan, Ablett, Sinfield, Bailey, Kirke, Burgess, Clarkson, Pitts and McShane.

Hopefully Danny McGuire will now be strong enough to play the full eighty and start the game at stand-off with Sinfield moving to loose forward. Our shape has been much better over the last couple of weeks and we've started to show some promise of the side that we can be with a fully fit squad.

Iestyn Harris will be hoping for a much better performance that a fortnight ago as he visits the ground that was his home in the late 1990's. He can welcome back Peter Lupton and Vince Mellars who bost missed last weeks game against the Warriors, as did Richard Moore who returns from a one game ban received when the two sides last met.

Lincoln Withers, Jason Chan and Tony Martin are all unavailable due to injury and Jordan Tansey misses out as he is cup-tied. Iestyn names his ninteen as; Schifcofske, Thomas, Mellars, Reardon, Witt, Sammut, O'Hara, Bryant, Cahill, Winterstein, Peek, Flower, Hanbury, Kear, White, Dudson, Moore, Lupton, and Murphy.

Three Crusaders to keep an eye on;


Thomas

Schifcofske

Sammut

As recently as a fortnight ago (Easter Monday) the Rhinos were putting the Crusaders to the sword at Headingley. The Crusaders also visited Headingley for a pre-season friendly back in January, a game which the Rhinos won easily by 32-0. Last season the Crusaders won the game at Headingley by 32-26 after Leeds had won the season opener in Wrexham by 34-06. In 2009, the Crusaders first season in Superleague, the Rhinos won both games comfortably.

Southstander.com Prediction
Rhinos 38 16 Crusaders

I'm going for a Rhinos tomorrow based on the much improved performances over the last few games and the enforced absences from the Crusaders side. The bookies have given the visitors a twenty point start and for me that looks just about right.

There is a high chance of rain tomorrow according to the forecast but it will still be pretty warm. The conditions may have some influence on the match with a slippery ball for the first time in quite a few weeks.

Travel safe and enjoy the game.

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