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Cup Campaign Kick-off
Posted by southstander on April 13 2012 - 07:04:02

It's one of the worst kept secrets in the game, the Rhinos burning desire to add to their five Superleague titles with their first Challenge Cup this century.

The road to Wembley starts again tonight with a home game against Richard Agars Wakefield Trinity Wildcats, a team who will be welcoming a brief respite from a poor league campaign.

This thirteenth will be a nightmare for someone, but who will it be?

We preview the game, read more here...

After making the nineteen twice over the Easter weekend, but never the seventeen, it looks likely from rumours and tweets that McGuire will make his return to the Rhinos starting line-up for tonights game. He's been sorely missed over the last few weeks and it will be a huge relief to coach and fans alike that he'll be instrumental in the start of our cup campaign.

The Rhinos are still without a plethora of stars with Watkins, Jones-Buchanan, Moore and Hauraki all still injured. Brad Singleton, after showing up well in last mondays win against the Broncos, missed tonight through suspension after picking up a one game ban playing for the academy.

Hopefully there will be fewer players in unfamiliar positions as McDermott names his ninteen as; Webb, Jones-Bishop, Hardaker, Hall, McGuire, Burrow, Leuluai, McShane, Peacock, Ablett, Sinfield, Smith, Delaney, Bailey, Kirke, Clarkson, Griffin, Hood, and Ward. After what Big Mac did last monday I am not even going to hazard a guess at the two omissions.

Richard Agar has had a spectacularly bad start to his tenure as Wakefield coach with just two wins from eleven. His side have lost three on the bounce, but most noticibly their last win was against the high flying Dragons who they beat 32-22 at the end of March.

The Wakefield side for tonights game will look significantly different to that which lost to Wigan last monday as Agar recalls Coackayne, Smith and Raleigh (all rested last monday in preparation for tonight) and has Mathers, James, Collis and Kirmond all returning from injury. There will be some disappointment amongst Rhinos fans that we won't be seeing past favourite Ali Lauiti'iti tonight as injury keeps him on the sidelines.

The 'Cats nineteen contains three ex-Rhinos and is names as; Mathers, Fox, Collis, Mellars, Cockayne, John, Wood, Wilkes, Ellis, Raleigh, Washbrook, Aiton, Amor, Kirmond, Smith, Trout, James, Walshaw, and Sykes.

Three 'Cats to keep an eye on;


Amor

Mathers

Fox

This is the first meeting between these two sides in 2012. There was a meeting on boxing day in the Yuletide friendly which the Rhinos won by 26-10, but the sides that day bore no resemblance to those which will take the field tonight.

Leeds won both games between the sides last year with a massive 64-20 win on the last visit of the 'Cats in September. We'd also won the away game earlier in the season by 28-06.

The last time that Wakefield beat the Rhinos was at their own ground in February 2012 by 18-28 and the last time that the visitors won at Headingley was way back in 2007 by a scoreline of 16-23.

Everything is pointing to a Rhinos win, and possibly a big one after Mondays confidence booster against the Broncos. I think that we'll make it safely into the hat for the next round, but then I thought that we'd beat the Bulls!

Southstander.com Prediction
Rhinos 32 10 Wildcats

Wakefield have a twenty-two point start on the handicapping coupon and I think that the bookies have this one nailed. It's easy to see why the TV channels passed over this one, and it really should be an easy day at the office for the home side. But stranger things have happened.

It looks pretty much like rain before, during and after the match. The pitch will be a mudbath as it struggles to recover from its winter battering by the squatters, and the ball will be like a bar of soap. It could well narrow the sideline as errors spoil the day.

There is a new wave of optimism around Headingley after the fifty plus against the Broncos and with the return of McGuire it should be the Rhinos fans who are leaving the ground grinning.

See you there.

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