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Rhinos v. Warriors...The Must Win Game
Posted by southstander on August 11 2006 - 08:25:54

Arm Wrestle

Both sides come into tonights game with a lot to prove.

Leeds desperately need to stop the rot which has now stretched to four games and seen us slip from a confident second to a shaky third in Superleague XI. A fifth defeat would see the worst run under Tony Smith and be our worst run for over ten years (the last five game losing sequence was back in Superleague I in April 1996).

Wigan, on the other hand, have been throw right back into the relegation battle after their cheating of the 2005 salary cap saw them get two points deducted earlier this week. With closest relegation rival Wakefield playing a 'broken' Catalans outfit, it looks like Wigan will need the win tonight to avoid dropping into that relegation spot.

We preview the game here.

The continued absence of Danny McGuire is a concern to coach and supporters alike as the Rhinos look to end their losing run against a revitalised Wigan Warriors side. Chris Feather has also failed a fitness test, and Lee Smith is dropped from the side after consecutive nightmare games at full-back. Toopi and Thackray are once again likely to play a full part and I'd expect that Jordan Tansey will be the one to miss out from the eighteen man squad of; Donald, Walker, Senior, Burrow, Bailey, Diskin, Peacock, Lauiti'iti, Ellis, Sinfield, Millard, Poching, Jones-Buchanan, Gibson, Kirke, Tansey, Thackray, and Toopi.

Worries early in the week for Noble over the fitness of Fielden and Dobson appear unfounded and both will play. As will Raddlinski returning from injury. Nobles eighteen man squad is; Ashton, Calderwood, Dobson, Fielden, Fletcher, Godwin, Hansen, Higham, Hock, Logan, McAvoy, O'Loughlin, Orr, Paleaaesina, Radlinski, Richards, Tickle, and Vaealiki. On the surface it is a strong looking side although their confidence must have taken a dent as a result of the loss of two hard earned points this week at the hands of the RFL.

Something has to give, and every ounce of my being is hoping that it is Wigan who end the evening in deeper misery.

The Rhinos have won both meetings between the sides this season with a 48-22 win at Headingley in June and a hard fought 24-16 victory at the JJB in february after trailing 16-0 at half-time.

We have won the last six against the Cherry & Whites and the last time that they got one over us was a four point win at the JJB in 2004. The last time we lost at Headingley against the 'fallen giants' was that one point defeat in the final play off eliminator in 2003...which really hurt!

Three Warriors to watch;




Calderwood makes his first return to Headingley wearing a first team shirt (he played for the Academy back in June) and will be looking for the return to his favourite turf to kick-start his Wigan scoring. He may also be looking to impress Hetherington and Smith in the hope of a swift return to Leeds should the unthinkable happen to Wigan.

This should be an absolute belter of a game, and one which neither side can afford to lose. I have got everything crossed that we will turn the corner tonight and get the win that we need to start a winning run all the way to the Grand Final. The boys must really be smarting now, and with us being back on home ground I hope that we can round off a bad week for the visitors with a crushing defeat. Prediction
Rhinos 26 16 Warriors

Tonights forecast is for a pleasant dry evening, but somewhat colder than we have been used to in recent weeks. As my grandmother used to say, don't forget your 'woolie'.

The bookies have given the visitors a ten points start, four less than they had for their last visit two months ago. For once, I believe that the bookies have it about right and I'm backing the Rhinos to end their losing streak at four and get one over Wigan tonight to increase their basement woes.



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