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Time to Slay the Dragons
Posted by southstander on August 29 2013 - 17:36:27

Potentially Back
There is some great pre-play-off news for the Rhinos. As if the thought of welcoming back Danny McGuire, Jamie Jones-Buchanan and Ryan Bailey for Fridays clash against the Dragons wasn't enough, Saturdays dour Challenge Cup Final proved as the best evidence yet that the Wigan Warriors are hurtling towards an end-of-season burn-out.

The Rhinos still have an outside chance of finishing third and securing a play-off at the Halliwell-Jones, but the points difference means that this can only really happen if the Warriors lose at home to Hull while we are beating our visitors.

We preview the game, read more here...

It's debatable whether we'd prefer a trip to Warrington or Huddersfield in the play-offs, but we need to keep one eye over out shoulder as two wins for the Saints and two losses for ourselves could potentially see us drop to fifth.

Fridays opposition are no mugs, and poised in sixth spot they will be hopeful of a good win to aid their own aspirations of finishing in fifth spot.

For Brian McDermott, Fridays' game seems to be all about easing his superstars back into the side ahead of the crucial play-offs. Rhinos fans will be delighted to see Danny McGuire is on the cusp of a return, especially when his injury was thought to be the end of his 2013. There are, however, mixed feelings as Danny is most likely to replace the exceptional Liam Sutcliffe, should he really be fully match fit.

Ryan Bailey seems to have been in and out of the team all year, and JJB has spent far too long on the sidelines.

The full nineteen man squad is named as; Hardaker, Jones-Bishop, Watkins, Moon, Hall, McGuire, Burrow, Leuluai, Peacock, Jones-Buchanan, Ablett, Sinfield, Bailey, Kirke, Clarkson, Moore, Singleton, Sutcliffe, and Foster. It's a squad which speaks volumes about the likely make-up of the 2014 Leeds side with no place for Paul McShane and Richard Moore.

I'd expect that all three returnees playing is unlikely.

Old Rhinos favourite Brent Webb returns to Headingley for the first time with his new side and he is sure to get a warm welcome. Remi Casty is back in contention after missing the Dragons last outing.

The Catalans have won their last two Superleague matches and call on a squad of; Webb, Blanch, Pryce, Bosc, Dureau, Elima, Henderson, Casty, Menzies, Mounis, Pelissier, Larroyer, Bousquet, Fakir, Paea, Duport, Vaccari, Whitehead, and Garcia.

The Rhinos have played the Dragons sixteen times during regular Superleague rounds and have been victorious on twelve occasions the last being the 27-12 win on the 1st April down in the south of France.

Leeds also won on the Dragons last visit to Headingley, the play-off game in 2012, by 27-20. The Dragons have never taken the points in a regular round Superleague game at Headingley.

Southstander.com Prediction
Rhinos 30 24 Dragons

Make no mistake, this is no walkover. If there are any fitness worries amongst our returning players then the Dragons will expose and punish them. The Dragons want the win as much, if not more, than we do. That said, the Rhinos have been licking their wounds for a fortnight after the crass loss to the Robins the last time out at Headingley.

The forecast for tomorrow is pretty nice with decent temperatures in the low twenties and only a 20% chance of any rain. The conditions should be ribght for a good game of open rugby.

Travel safe and enjoy the game.

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