Bradford, our only concern in the quest for second place, are two points behind us but with a far better points difference. If they beat Hull FC tonight, and we lose to the Wildcats, then we will finish the season in third spot and have to get through the play-offs the hard way. Wakefield, after last weeks loss to the Giants, are eighth and need a big win against us, coupled with a loss for Warrington (at Salford) and a massive points defeat for Wigan who are at home to St. Helens to get into sixth spot. It is looking increasingly likely that third spot for the Rhinos would mean a home game against this season bogey side Wigan Warriors in the first play-off game. That would not be a prospect to relish!
Tony Smith looks like he has decided to remain controversial to the end, in what is hopefully his last game in charge at Headingley. He has left out (dropped) Ryan Bailey and Jamie Thackray from his eighteen and re-instated Ryan Hall and Jordan Tansey. Hall played last night for the U21's in their opening play-off game and so is therefore likely to be named as water carrier for tonights game. Ali Lauiti'iti is also back in the squad, although it may be worthwhile taking a low number in the 'how long will Ali last this week' sweepstake!
John Kear has a good track record against Leeds, and an even better one of getting his side up for what he considers to be his major matches. That said, the stuffing will have bene knocked out of his charges after the Giants fightback last week which effectively shut them out of the play-offs. I'd hope that the Wildcats have given it up, but knowing Kear he'll rally his troops for one last hurrah. His eighteen man squad is; Jason Demetriou, Ryan Atkins, Jamie Rooney, Ben Jeffries, Adam Watene, Sam Obst, Danny Sculthorpe, Duncan MacGillivray, David March, Ricky Bibey, Kevin Henderson, Matt Blaymire, Peter Fox, Jason Golden, Richard Moore, Luke George, Paul White, and Sean Gleeson.
Three 'Cats to watch;
Superleague XII honours are even between the sides with a 32-26 Rhinos win at Belle Vue in March, followed by a 16-23 defeat at Headingley in July. Since their win against us in July the Wildcats have lost four from five as they plummetted out of the play-offs. Their only victory being at home agsint the Harlequins over a month ago.
Surely we'll win this one....surely?
It's looking like being a reasonable night for those stood on the exposed terracing, any rain from this morning clearing away but leaving a few clouds around.
The bookies are not currenlty showing the odds or the handicap but I'd suspect that they will be givingthe Wildcats an eight to twelve points start when they do put them up later this morning.
Enjoy the game, and hopefully this week the final hooter will signify a secure second place.