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Rhinos Look to Avoid York Repeat
Posted by southstander on January 02 2005 - 15:36:16

Threat to Mathers?
Whilst most eyes will be on the unveiling of new Rhinos signing Gareth Ellis at Bootham Crescent tomorrow, Tony Smith will be far more interested in the on-pitch action.

As many expected, it is a young Rhinos line-up which makes the short trip up the A64 to the home of York City Football Club, more of an Academy+ than a full Leeds side.

Marcus Bai and Willie Poching both recover from injury, but the 'go on...impress me' gauntlet is thrown down to a few fringe players like McDonald and Feather, along with the whole host of promising youngsters.

In 2004, the Rhinos were only beaten by five sides. Three are easy to guess, with Bradford, Hull FC (pre-season friendly), Saints and Wigan being the obvious choices as our closest competitors for the title, but the fourth.....well, that was York Knights.

On a dreadful Friday night in January, we travelled to see our youngsters thrashed by 32-6 at the hands of a York Knights side that were 'well up for it'. In the torrential rain a determined York side kept us pointless for seventy minutes before Dwayne Barker salvaged the smallest litle morsel of pride. Lightning couldn't strike twice....could it?

The side that Tony Smith has named for the 3:00pm kick-off looks strong enough to put up more of a resistance. A number of the youngsters on show must consider themselves to be 'fringe' first teamers, with the way open for any of them to break into the side over what will be a long and exhausing Superleague X season. Lee Smith, Scott Murrell, John Gallagher, Nick Scruton, Carl Ablett and Luke Stenchion are amongst a glittering array of players who impressed massively for the Senior Academy last season. There is every chance that one or more of these young lads will emerge as 2005's Danny McGuire or Richie Mathers!

There are some close ties with York, and their new coach, Mick Cook, will have a point to prove against his old employers. The Rhinos also have a 'tie-up' with the Knights, with the Rhinos operating in a supportive role. Over the season, I guess that this will mean that the Rhinos will lend out Senior Academy players to get some first team action with out near neighbours.

Marcus and Willie are likely to play no more that forty minutes each, and the ones to watch for me would be Lee Smith, Scott Murrell and Nick Scruton!


Nick
Scruton

Scott
Murrell

Lee
Smith
There are directions on how to get to Bootham Crescent over on the Official Leeds Rhinos site. It is a nice little ground, and with a decent turnout there should be a good atmosphere. It's only thirty miles up the A64, and the journey should take no more that three quarters of an hour. It has forcast showers for the afternoon, but the whole ground is undercover, it should also be quite mild for the time of year.

I fancy that the team that we take this year will not fall into the same trap as we did last season. There is a years more experience for some of our youngsters, and they have a smattering of first team exposure between them.

Southstander.com Prediction
Knights 18 26 Rhinos

See you all there. Match report will be up on site sometime on Monday night.

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