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Rhinos Toulouse?
Posted by southstander on July 29 2005 - 18:13:16

Scheming

By SouthStander.com

Anyone would have expected this week to be one of frenzy and excitement as the Rhinos build up to sundays Challenge Cup semi-final, and the prospect of a trip to the Millenium Stadium to have a chance of lifting the trophy that we last raised in 1999.

But it has been a bit of a quiet time.

Perhaps most supporters think that sundays clash with Toulouse is a foregone conclusion...but games like this have a tendancy to turn around and 'bite you on the bum'. Just ask the Widnes Vikings.

Chev Walker has recovered from a hand injury sustained in last weeks fantastic win at the Halliwell Jones Stadium, and is likely to play, despite a late fitness test. Ryan Bailey is also over his 'mumps' and will be in last weeks seventeen if declared fully fit, probably replacing Francis Cummins who will drop to water carrier. Kevin Sinfield continues to recover from his hand operation so Rob Burrow retains the kicking role, after converting seven out of eight last weekend.

Very few of the Toulouse names will be familiar to Rhinos fans, with one exception, John Gallagher. Displaying a shocking attempt at a beard for the quarter final win over Widnes, Gallagher will be looking to get one over on his old colleagues and will be passing on the relevant intelligence to his team-mates and coach. Gallagher has been joined at Toulouse by a mix of antipodeans and frenchmen to form an unpredictable mix that could cause is some problems in attack, and who will defend like terriers.

Three from Toulouse to watch;


Wynne

Estebanez

Gallagher

Toulouse are the very first French team to appear in the Powergen Challenge Cup semi-finals, and it would be a phenomenal achievement for them to make it all the way to the final. In the competition for their fourth time, this is the first time they have progressed beyond their opening tie. Taking on the French is nothing new for the Rhinos this season, and we've had a bit of a French year. An easy win over SM Pia in round five was followed by the 'French Experience' with a trip to Perpignan to play, and lose, against the Broncos.

I have to admit to knowing very little about sundays opposition, but the bookies are rarely wrong and they have given them a 46 point start on the coupon. That sounds way to generous and I'd expect a closer game than that. Toulouse have a point to prove to the RFL after being overlooked for the southern France franchise in favour of Les Catalans, and that makes them dangerous.

Southstander.com Prediction
Rhinos 50 14 Toulouse

The weather is forecast to be cloudy on sunday, seeing an end to the torrential rain that we've had since thursday morning. The pitch could be heavy after the Saints v. Hull FC game on saturday, but drier conditions should help the Rhinos fast handling.

As for the other semi - I don't really care who wins. I suspect that the Saints will have enough fire-power to overcome the hit-and-miss Airlie Birds, however, John Kear has always been one for a cup upset. The bookies have Saints winning it by a dozen. Just so long as we are the ones going to Cardiff from our tie - we'll take our chances on the day.

Don't forget Barries French Doo on sunday night.

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