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Will the Rhinos be Magic in Manchester?
Posted by southstander on May 25 2012 - 13:01:00

7 Games
It's magic weekend and this season the rugby league world decamps to Manchesters Etihad Stadium, home of the Premier League Champions Manchester City.

A feast of rugby, in the form of seven 'derbies', has thrown up a couple of potential belters and the Rhinos against the Bulls is definitely one of these.

The Rhinos are looking up the table at the Bulls for the first time in a long time, and our cash-strapped neighbours will be confident of recording their second win of the season over us, and deepening the Headingley depression.

We preview the game, read more here...

The Rhinos have lost two on the bounce against the Bulls, and those that were at Odsal on that miserable night in early April will have been trying to forget the 4-12 defeat ever since. Leeds have also lost their last two Superleague games whereas the Bulls have taken three points out of the last available four. All that said, the bookies have given the Bulls a ten point start on the coupon, they must know something we don't.

There is just one change from mondays night which sees Ben Jones-Bishop replace Hauraki in the squad. Lunt will be hoping that he gets on the pitch this weekend after a 'Did Not Play', and personally I'd rather see him start with Burrow being used to devastating effect from the bench after twenty-five minutes. I'm not really sure what McDermott is playing at, but he's confusing players, fans and pundits alike.

The full nineteen is; Webb, Jones-Bishop, Watkins, Hardaker, Hall, McGuire, Burrow, Leuluai, Peacock, Jones-Buchanan, Ablett, Sinfield, Smith, Delaney, Bailey, Clarkson, Griffin, Moore, and Lunt. I think that it will be Moore and probably Smith that miss out, although I'm not sure why Moore regularly gets overlooked in favour of Griffin.

Adrian Purtell and Brett Kearney have both recovered from inury and are drafted into a Bulls nineteen which also contains John Bateman who is returning from suspension. Jamie Langley is out injured and Olbison and Ainscough both drop out of the squad ahead of the trip to Manchester.

Potter has named his squad as; Addy, Bateman, Burgess, Diskin, Elima, Gale, Hargreaves, Jeffries, Kear, Kearney, Kopczak, L'Estrange, Lulia, Manuokafoa, Platt, Pryce, Purtell, Walker, and Whitehead. Ex-Rhinos Diskin and Walker will both be looking to continue their good run of winning form over their ex-employers.

Three Bullies to keep an eye on;


Elima

Disco

Jeffries

For some the Magic weekend is just that, a magical occasion with a chance to gorge yourself on rugby and see all the talent that our great game has to offer. For others it is a false concept aimed at generating extra money and making a mockery of the 'home and away' format of the league. For the Bulls and the Rhinos it is has the potential to be a season defining game. A loss for Leeds, with games against Wigan and Warrington in the next fortnight, could see us dropping out of the eight and then struggling to get back there for the rest of the year. We simply have to win.

The Superleague era regular rounds tally between these two sides is Leeds won 21, Bulls won 24 and two draws. Over the last five years the Rhinos have been dominant with 10 wins against the Bulls four.

These 'on the road' games haven't been without controversy. Last season the Rhinos launched one of the greatest comebacks to score 22 points in the last 20 minutes to win 32-28 in Cardiff. Very few can forget the amazing finish to the Millennium Magic game in Cardiff when Jordan Tansey scored the try that should never have been given for a Rhinos 42-38 win.

Lets hope that Sundays game is less stressful than both of those.

Southstander.com Prediction
Rhinos 36 12 Bulls

An injury to Richard Silverwood means that Sundays game will be refereed by 'The Hairy Halibut' which adds an extra randomness to the piece.

I've backed a big Leeds win but it is more in desperation than expectation. We need to get our season going, and soon. Winning the Grand Final last season appears to have done us no good and to some extent it papered over the cracks. Do the lads think they can win it from eighth this season? If we don't get our house in order then it looks like that is exactly what we'd have to do, and that would be tough.

Leeds to win, and I hope that my optimism is well founded.

The forecast for the weekend is superb with no chance of rain and really decent temperatures. It should all add to the occasion.

Travel safe, mingle well, and enjoy the games.

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