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Smith V. Smith
Posted by southstander on May 26 2006 - 08:10:22

Big Game

The only certainty about tonights game between the Bulls and the Rhinos at Odsal Stadium is that we are going to get wet...very wet!

It's second against third as both sides come into the game with dodgy form. Both sides are looking to make up ground on runaway league leaders St. Helens, but more important for Leeds is re-opening the comfort zone between ourselves and the home side. Bradford, on the other hand, are looking to leapfrog us into second.

We preview the game here...

Tony Smith, up against his brother now working in an advisory capacity at Odsal, has brought Peacock (making his first return to Odsal), Jones-Buchanan and Gareth Ellis back into the squad. All three players were rested last weekend for the cup match against Rochdale, a game which saw Mark O'Neill pick up a slight shoulder injury which will keep him out of this weeks game.

Expect Diskin to be promoted back into the staring line-up from last weeks eighteenth man with Ablett, Kirke and Bailey, Scruton or Feather the ones likely to miss out. Smith is likely to retain his full-back berth after doing nothing wrong last week, and Danny Williams should get the nod on the wing. With the exception of O'Neill, Smith can name his strongest side, so we can't blame injuries like we did when the Bulls beat us 20-18 at Headingley six weeks ago.

The Bulls are now under new coach Steve McNamara, with his new temporary advisory side-kick, ex-Bulls supremo Brian Smith. McNamara is looking to improve on his two from five record since taking over from Brian Noble, and the arrival of Smith seems to indicate that administration have some concerns over his short-term capabilities.

This will be the first time that the two Smiths have coached against one another, and at seventeen years the junior Tony will be looking to get one over on his older brother. Ex-Rhinos Marcus Bai and Chris McKenna will both miss out for the home side, however, SouthStand anti-hero Iestyn Harris will figure prominantly.

The last time that the Rhinos travelled to Odsal we came away with a fantastic 42-12 win, but we've had plenty of heartache since then, most notably in last years Grand Final defeat at Old Trafford, and the narrow defeat at Headingley in mid-April.

Three Bulls to watch;


Fielden

Harris

Gene

I don't know which way this one will go. The Rhinos had a confidence boosting win last week, in a game which saw Kevin Sinfield return after injury with no ill effects. The Bulls put in a shocking performance at Saints and once again exited the Challenge Cup early in the competition. They will be smarting from the loss and the performance and feel that they have a point to prove in front of their home supporters.

I'm going to err on the side of the Rhinos, but in a close competition.

SouthStander.com Prediction
Bulls 18 24 Rhinos

Tonights forecast is for rain all the way! I'm not looking forward to a drenching in the least waterproof of superleague satdiums. Hopefully the Rhinos play will lift the blues.

The bookies have given Leeds a two point start, showing that even they are struggling to pick a winner for this one. The bigger money to be won is on first try scorer with McGuire and Vainikolo both 10/1, and nice outsiders might be Matt Diskin at 20/1 or Jamie Peacock with a big point to prove at 33/1.

There is just a short time left to get your predictions in in the tipping competition. Enjoy the game.

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