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U18s Go For Final Glory
Posted by southstander on October 07 2005 - 14:24:53

2nd GF Win?
by Matthew Horton

A high noon showdown at Headingley on Sunday at the Leeds Rhinos Junior Academy entertain Wigan Warriors in the Grand Final.

Entry is £3 and £1 and is via the South Stand turnstiles only.

We preview the game here.

Leeds will be brimming with confidence after the 28-16 victory over Widnes last Sunday. They have reached the Grand Final after finishing fourth in the league table and winning twice away from home.

Last weekend Kyle Briggs was outstanding at Stand Off, as was the centre partnership of James Archibald and Mike Ratu. Luke Burgess returned from the 21's to cover for the injured Michael Haley and set the example for the forwards. Coach John Bastion has announced his squad and the run on side will be selected from Jordan Tansey, Danny Allen, Mike Ratu, James Archibald, Michael Brown, Kyle Briggs, Ben Kaye, Luke Burgess, Mark Watts (c), Liam Halliday, Steve Brook, Joe Walsh, Luke Gale, Wayne Reitti, Liam Brown, Tom Sheldrake, Joe Chandler and Karl Gunney.

Seven of the team have Under 21 game time under their belts this season and six still qualify for the Under 16's. Its a very young Rhinos side indeed and its fantastic to see the coaching staff have faith in the young blokes. Coach John Bastion on the Leeds Rhinos site said "We have used a lot of our Under 16 players this year and they have done a great job for us. Because the Senior Academy were in the second tier of their competition, our older players moved up to that level to test themselves and that has given an opportunity for other players to come through sooner than perhaps we first imagined. We finished in fourth place in the table after a tough season and have had to go away to Warrington and Widnes to just make the Grand Final so they have achieved so much already. Wigan have been the outstanding team in the competition this year and it will be another big challenge for us this week but that seems to bring out the best in this group of players."

Wigan on the other hand were dealt a major blow by the judiciary on Tuesday night when they had five players suspended after a brawl in the 24-12 Major Semi Final victory over Widnes. Mike McIlorum (2 matches), Nicky Stanton (2 matches), Ross Bradley (1 match), Dean Hatton (2 matches) and Ben Kavanagh (3 matches) will all miss the game but Wigan Academy Director Dean Bell was disappointed with the decisions but the club had decided to accept them.

Coach Shaun Wane on the official Wigan Warriors website is still confident, "It’s a setback, but we are still confident with the players available we can go to Leeds and win. It will make it all the more sweeter if we do. We have had injuries all year and what has made me so happy has been the way the lads have responded magnificently to these pressure situations. There’s a lot of talent there. The important part of my job is to prepare them for the first team, but it would still be nice to win the Grand Final."

Hopefully it will be a decent turn out for the boys on Sunday morning, don't forget this will be the last chance you will get to use the Eastern Terrace before its demolished to make way for the Carnegie Stand. After the game the National League Grand Finals will be shown in the Supporters Club so its a packed day of action for everyone. Make sure you are there to give the boys your support.

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