Leeds go with the same seventeen as fortnight ago and Ryan Bailey scrapes into the eighteen after being dropped/injured/ill for the Round 27 fixture. The other Ryan, of the Hall variety, drops out of the twenty, as does the seriously out-of-favour Jamie Thackray. I bet Jamie is desperate for the arrival of Mr McLennan and a chance to impress. I'd have probably included Thackray in place of Ian Kirke who has disappointed in recent weeks after playing with so much promise earlier in the season. Perhaps Smithy is making Jamie extra hungry for Old Trafford. Of the eighteen, I suspect that Ablett or Kirke wil be the one to sit this one out.
Daniel Anderson has got all sorts of problems ahead of tonights game. He has lost both Sean Long and Maurie Fa'asavalu, both of whom will be sadly missed by the home side and their supporters (snigger, snigger!). Saints are also without 'biscuit' Sculthorpe and last years tormentor, Jamie Lyon, is, of course, long gone. The full Saints eighteen is; Wellens, Gardner, Gidley, Talau, Meli, Pryce, Fozzard, Cunningham, Cayless, Gilmour, Wilkin, Roby, Bennett, Graham, Hargreaves, Smith, Clough, Flannery. There is plenty in this line-up to cause us all sorts of trouble, but the loss of the 'unkempt' one will undoubtable give the Rhinos a massive confidence boost and the Saints a confidence dent.
Three Saints to watch;
Leeds have not been beaten by Saints this season. I'll put that another way, the Rhinos have beaten Saints on every occasion this season. That does sound good, doesn't it?
A 38-19 win at Headingley back in April was followed up with an unexpected 22-10 win at Knowsley Road in July. Back in 2006 we lost all three encounters and in 2005 we won two out of three matches. Over the last three years we stand at four wins apiece. History, however, teaches us very little.
The adage of 'you are only as good as your last game' gives us a little more comfort. We, of course, hammered Wakefield is a great display of rugby while at the same time Saints were getting humiliated at Wigan. This Saints side has proved all season that they are beatable, but then so have we!
I just have the feeling that Saints will get one over on us tonight and earn themselves a week off before the Grand Final, although I am hoping with every fibre of my being that I am wrong. I really can't see us beating Saints twice, so I'd rather we lost tonight and won on October 13th, but a win tonight could conceivably set up a mouthwatering tie between Saints and Wigan next week. Now that would see Saints being nervous, an could well mean that tonight would be our only game of the play-offs against the Saints.
The forecast is for showers all afternoon and evening, thank goodness that we're under cover.
The bookies have given the Rhinos a six point start on the coupon with match prices showing Saints at 4/9 and Leeds at 2/1, very generous to Leeds backing punters. Saints by my chosen margin of 6-10 points is offered at 9/2 while I've won money this season on Scott Donald to score the opener at 14/1. Having said all that, I'm too nervous to have a wager.
Enjoy the game, and have a safe journey over the tops.