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Grand Final Rematch
Posted by southstander on April 05 2013 - 15:15:24

Banned
Should the Rhinos emerge with two points from Sunday evening crunch clas with the Warrington Wolves, they will have done it the hard way.

Leeds will be without the services of Ryan Bailey, banned for four games due to his Bank Holiday Monday exploits in the South of France, Joe Vickery who has a hamstring injury, and Kylie Leuluai who got injured against the Bulls in the previous game. Brett Delaney is in the nineteen after missing the entire second half of the game against the Dragons.

On piece of good news is the inclusion of Zak Hardaker in the Rhinos nineteen as they look to draw level with the Wolves in a very competitive looking top half of the league table.

We preview the game, read more here...

Bailey was cited for two separate incidents against the Dragons and after pleading guilty, and receiving a two game ban, for the first half swinging arm he was then handed an additional two game suspension for the charge which saw him dismissed in the second half. He will now miss the home games against Warrington and London, the fourth round of the Challenge Cup and a visit to Hull KR. He returns for the visit to the Bradford Bulls on the 3rd May.

Zak Hardaker has been cleared to return to full training and there is every chance that Big Mac will accelerate his return to the side to enable Watkins to switch back onto the wing occupied by the injured Vickery for most of the season. Brad Singleton must fancy his chances of getting the nod for at least a bench spot this week, especially is Leuluai isn't fully returned to fitness and given the knock to Delaney on Monday in France.

It will certainly be a different looking Rhinos side to take on the 'Champions Elect' and the opposition for both of last seasons major finals.

Brian McDermott names his ninteen as; Hardaker, Watkins, Moon, Hall, McGuire, Burrow, Leuluai, McShane, Peacock, Jones-Buchanan, Ablett, Sinfield (c), Ward, Delaney, Kirke, Clarkson, Achurch, Moore, and Singleton.

Tony Smith will still be smarting from the Good Friday loss to the Widnes Vikings, despite a big win over London Broncos on Monday. He will, however, be without the services of Rhys Evans (medial ligaments) and probably Chris Bridge (hamstring). Lee Briers (since Round 2) and Adrian Morley (since Round 3) are long term injuries and both a big loss for the visitors.

He is able to recall Mickey Higham and Chris Bridge which will be a big boost to the Wolves aspirations for a win on Sunday, a victory which could see them top of the league depending on other results around them.

The Wolves coach has named his nineteen as; Atkins, Bridge, Carvell, Cooper, Currie, Grix, Harrison, Higham, Hill, Hodgson, McCarthy, Monaghan J., Monaghan M., Myler, Ratchford, Riley, Waterhouse, Westwood, and Wood.

The Wolves have lost three out of their last six, against Widnes Vikings, St. Helens and Hull KR. The Rhinos have lost one, and drawn one, in their last six league matches, the only loss coming to the Huddersfield Giants.

In regular Superleague rounds between the two sides the Rhinos currently lead by a convincing 26-11, with one game being a draw. The last time that the two sides met in any competition was at Old Trafford last October, the night of that famous 26-18 victory. The meeting before that was at Wembley when the Wolves were 35-18 victors. Honours were shared in the regular rounds meetings in 2012 with the Rhinos winning 26-18 at Headingley in March and losing 37-18 at the Halliwell-Jones in early June.

Southstander.com Prediction
Rhinos 18 36 Wolves

It was an amazing effort for the twelve men to win in France despite the sending off of Bailey and a massive penalty count against us. It is testament to the spirit and comradeship in the side.

I fear that the trip, and the loss of key forwards, put us at a major disadvantage for Sunday and I expect that we'll be on the losing side come the end of the eighty minutes. The lads proved me wrong last week and I hope that they will again this round.

The bookies are less certain and are starting the game off 'scratch' as they consider it to be too close to call. James Child has been given the flagship game of the weekend. Is that a signal that there is no-one in charge at Red Hall? He's an absolute shocker and once again is likely to be embarrassed by the SKY cameras scrutinising his every decision.

After a horrendous couple of weeks the forecast for Sunday looks pretty good with ten degrees, overcast conditions, but very little chance of rain.

Fingers crossed that the battle weary Rhinos can snatch the win, but I expect that if we do it will be by a very narrow margin.

Enjoy the game.

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