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The Big One for the Young Ones!
Posted by southstander on September 22 2005 - 07:08:28

Smiffys Back
by John D

So this is it. The culmination of a season's effort packed into 80 minutes.

Having lost out in last year's championship Grand Final to Bradford, Leeds desperately want to make some sort of reparation by taking out the first division title as Widnes - winners of the qualifying play-off two weeks ago - return to Headingley to contest the honours.

After the disappointment in the much-maligned grading phase - a system set to be scrapped for next season - Leeds have cut a swathe through the first division this season, losing only once and racking up over 800 points in 14 games. This is play-off rugby though, and what's gone before counts for little as the opposition in this encounter proved in the elimination play-off as Widnes dished out a bit of a lesson in wet weather football as they qualified with relative ease. Leeds had to get back on the horse quickly and did so last week with a resounding win over Castleford to join Widnes in the final.

Coach Stuart Wilkinson has made a few changes again, with the return of Lee Smith the most notable. A few positional swaps see Jordan Tansey switching to the halves and Scott Murrell into loose forward. It's a very strong looking Leeds line-up, especially in the forwards. The team in full is Lee Smith; Danny Williams, Ashley Gibson, Chris Buttery, Matt Gardner; Jordan Tansey, Iain Gordon; Luke Burgess, Jamie I'Anson, Nick Scruton; Jason Hart, Jason Golden; Scott Murrell. Subs: Peter Fox, Joe Walsh, Dave Tootill, Luke Stenchion.

Despite the season being over for Widnes' first team, they have resisted making wholesale changes and bringing the likes of Stephen Myler in. Boom prop Steve Nash - a target for Super league clubs lately, Leeds among them - starts on the bench. Widnes line up with Steve Rowlands; Tom Draper, Darren Woods, Martin Ainscough, Paul O'Connor; Phil Woods, Ryan Millington; Bruce Johnson, Paul Crooke, John Boland; Michael Gill, Michael Stout; Stuart Martin. Subs: Danny Burns, Danny Inman, Steve Nash, Rob Lamb.

Kick off is at 8pm and it costs £3 to get in and £1 concessions (the RFL set the prices for finals, hence it's not free as normal Academy games at Headingley are). The lads do appreciate all the support they receive, so if you're in the area, come along and give them a cheer. The southstander.com man of the match presentation will take place in the Supporters Club after the game and if you want your say, find one of the message board regulars in the ground before full time and have your two penn'orth.

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