Tom Briscoe had the dream first team debut when he helped himself to a hat-trick of tries to quiet the Robins. Kevin Sinfield had an uncharacteristically poor afternoon with the boot in difficult kicking conditions and will not have thanked his team-mates for scoring their tries in the corners. The Rhinos came through the match unscathed with the only concern being a slight knock to new hooker Paul Aiton, although he hopes to be fit to make his full home debut on Friday night.
Liam Sutcliffe has stepped aside to allow Mitch Achurch to be named in the nineteen as the only change from last weekend. Ben Jones-Bishop and Steve Ward were the two players omitted from the KR game and will both be hoping that they get the nod this week. I suspect that Ward, if fully fit, is the most likely to replace Sutcliffe in a side that will otherwise be unchanged.
Brian McDermott's full nineteen is; Hardaker, Jones-Bishop, Watkins, Moon, Hall, McGuire, Burrow, Leuluai, Aiton, Peacock, Ablett, Sinfield, Ward, Delaney, Bailey, Clarkson, Achurch, Briscoe, and Singleton.
Tony Smith has a good record against the Rhinos and his team have emerged victorious from the last two meetings between the sides (both at the Halliwell-Jones). The last time that the Wolves visited Headingley it was the Rhinos night as they won 28-22 with tries from Hall (2), Watkins, McGuire and McShane.
The heavy loss to the Saints, their heaviest home defeat in seven years, has forced the boss to ring the changes ahead for Friday nights televised clash. He has dropped Chris Riley and loses back-rower Glenn Riley with knee ligament damage opening the way for two debuts in the form of Gene Ormsby and Anthony England. Simon Grix is back in contention for a place after recovering from shoulder surgery, but close-season signing from the Gold Coast Titans Matthew Russell is still on the treatment table.
Smith names his nineteen as; Asotasi, Atkins, Bridge, Currie, Dwyer, England, Evans, Grix, Higham, Hill, Laithwaite, Monaghan J., Monaghan M., Myler, O’Brien, Ormsby, Ratchford, Waterhouse, and Westwood.
The two sides have met 48 times in the Superleague era with the Rhinos being victorious on thirty-one occasions with one match being drawn. Over the last two seasons the Wolves have won four out of seven encounters in all competitions and the two sides shared the 2012 honours with Warrington victorious by 35-18 in the Challenge Cup Final but the Rhinos snatching their sixth Grand Final win six weeks later by 26-18.
Warrington are taking some time to get over the losses of key players like Morley, Hodgson and Briers as they look to rebuilt their competitiveness in 2014. I think that Friday evening will be too soon to see a massive change and the Wolves supporters must be making the journey with low expectations as to their sides chances.
There are still many lupine danger men with the Monaghans, Ratchford, Myler and Westwood all able to wreak potential havoc.
I agree with the bookies who make Leeds the favourites for the two points (-8 on the coupon) but think that the winning margin will be a little bit bigger than they are predicting. Another two points for the Rhinos, and hopefully no injuries.
The forecast suggests a low change of rain for tomorrow night but it could be a bit breezy. Hopefully we'll score our tries under the posts and give Sinfield a change to improve his conversion rate.