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Hornets Unlikely To Sting
Posted by southstander on May 19 2006 - 09:00:36

Tonight sees the Rhinos entry into the 2006 Challenge Cup, with the ultimate aim of getting to Twickenham for the final in August.

Rochdale Hornets are our visitors, a side that we last played in pre-Superleague days when we travelled to Spotland on the 30th January 1994 and won 40-18 (Fallon (2), Cummins, Eyres, Hanley, Innes, Lowes and Tait. Holroyd (4G)).

The thought of the Hornets doing a 'David', and beating the Rhinos, is made even more unlikely by the restricted player choice that coach Abram has.

We preview the game here...

Tony Smith is giving the visitors due respect by recalling captain Kevin Sinfield when another weeks recouperation would do him no harm. The coach does rest Jamie Peacock, Jamie Jones-Buchanan and Gareth Ellis, all of whom will benefit from fourteen clear days without a game before we take on the Bulls in a weeks time.

Joining Sinfield in the eighteen are returnees Feather, Kirke, Williams and Ali Lauiti'iti. I expect that either Williams or Kirke will be the one to miss out, although I'm not sure who will be playing full-back, in for the injured Mathers. With Richies' season ending injury I would have expected Ashley Gibson to have been brought in at Number One for the rest of the season, but perhaps Hetherington has a new signing up his sleeve?

Hornets coach Darren Abram really has his work cut out. From his first choice side he is likely to be missing; Benjafield, Goulden, Firth, Owen and Bunyan with King, Gordon and Dean definitely missing as they are cup-tied. Abram admits that he is done to the 'barest bones' but believes that his side can still give us a good game. Only the most optimistic of Rochdale fans will believe that the part-timers can overturn a slick Rhinos outfit, even when we are in the midst of a mid-season blip.

We don't get to take on Rochdale very often and the introduction gave the stats of the last game we played, over twelve years ago. The last time that Rochdale visited Headingley was also in the Challenge Cup, back in the 1992-3 season when Leeds, thanks to a Garry Schofield hat-trick, won the game by 68-6. Expect something similar tonight.

Three Hornets to watch;


Wood

Pickershill

Patterson

This should be little more than a training game for the Rhinos and I'd expect McGuire and Burrow to have a field day. Rochdale are currently fourth in National League One with three wins from their opening five fixtures. They lost 18-12 on their last outing against Halifax, after trailing 12-0 at half time. There is nothing other than a Rhinos progression into the next round, and then the joy of seeing either Bradford or Saints exiting on the BBC tomorrow afternoon.

SouthStander.com Prediction
Rhinos 66 12 Hornets

It's pretty bad news on the weather front with rain forcast all day, stopping a couple of hours before kick-off. The pitch will be heavy and the ball wet, which could stifle the Rhinos open game a little. Dry for the duration, with fingers-crossed at leasy those on the Western Terrace shouldn't get too wet.

The bookies have given the visitors a forty-four point start, and I think they will probably need more than that. More interesting odds can be found on the Bulls v. Saints game with the 'hit and miss' Bradford being given an eight point start.

I hope that the visitors from Rochdale have a great day out, but that the Rhinos can put them away in good style with a confidence building big win. I doubt that there will be many there tonight, possibly between five and six thousand, but hopefully we'll generate a bit of atmosphere for the players.

Enjoy the game.

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