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The Dream Final
Posted by southstander on October 12 2007 - 07:08:58

Coming Home?

My emotions are swinging violently between confidence that we'll do it, and despair that we won't.

My head is telling me that Saints will have the class and composure to make it back-to-back doubles and pick up the last piece in their four trophy jigsaw. Meanwhile my heart is screaming at me that last weeks comprehensive victory over the Warriors puts us in the driving seat, and our two wins out of three against the 'S' so far this season means that we have the upper hand over Andersons men.

I'm guessing that Leeds and Saints fans looking forward to tomorrow nights game are having a similar debate with themselves. I really can't call this one with any confidence.

We preview the game here...

The thirteenth of October 2007 sees the tenth Superleague Grand Final, but the first ever last-weekend meeting of Saints and Leeds since the switch to summer rugby. Saints have the track record, having lifted the trophy on four occasions, while the Rhinos have tasted glory just once. Who can forget that great night in October 2004 when Danny McGuire and Matt Diskin both crossed to give us a 16-08 win over Brian Nobles Bulls.

Tony Smith has named the same twenty as the last two weeks and all the smart money is on Hall and Thackray to drop out today, with Tansey being the unlucky one to miss out on the final seventeen. Bailey did enough last week to merit his inclusion and with Kirke and Diskin both showing no ill effects from last weeks exertions, I expect exactly the same seventeen, and the same starting thirteen (shirt numbered one to thirteen). This is Tony Smiths Leeds swansong before moving to pastures new, and with his track record he is likely to prove me totally wrong and seriously shuffle his pack.

Daniel Anderson appears to have a few more problems than his Leeds counterpart as he nervously awaits fitness tests for Sean Long and Maurie Fa'asavalu, neither of whom have played for several weeks. He's more likely to want the big forward back in his side than Long, who is adequately covered. His full twenty is; Paul Wellens, Ade Gardner, Matt Gidley, Willie Talau, Francis Meli, Leon Pryce, Sean Long, Nick Fozzard, Keiron Cunningham, Jason Cayless, Lee Gilmour, Jon Wilkin, James Roby, Mike Bennett, James Graham, Bryn Hargreaves, Matty Smith, Paul Clough, Maurie Fa'asavalu and Chris Flannery.

This truly is a match-up between the best two sides in the competition and a mouthwatering prospect for the neutral and armchair fans. Those of us with strong allegiances will find it a much more nervy proposition.

Three Rhinos who'll decide our fate;


Pocket Rocket

JP

The Skipper

The Rhinos and Saints have met three times this season with Leeds having being victorious on two occasions. The last meeting was that 08-10 loss in the first eliminator, a game in which we dominated the second half but just couldn't turn posession and territory into tries. The aggregate this season is 68-39 to the Rhinos with average of 23-13 in our favour. They say that you are only as good as your last match, and with that being the case Saints held on for a narrow win while we stunned an in-form Wigan with a great win.

Southstander.com Prediction
Saints 14 16 Rhinos

Before the first play-off against Saints I tipped them to get the win and a week off, this time I think that we'll do it, but only just. It really could go either way and my prediction is made with very little confidence. Despite a season of disappointing results we've made it to the showpiece, perhaps peaking at exactly the right point in the season. If we play like we did against Wigan then I am certain that we'll lift the trophy. Error free, no stupid penalties, and plenty of flair - it could be a great night.

The forecast is for fog early on and cloud later. There may be a shower or two, but lets face it, most of us will be so hyped up that a little bot of weather will make little difference. We're all under cover at the Theatre of Dreams in any case.

The bookies have given the Rhinos a four point start on the coupon and I think that I'd be taking that as the result will be a close one. Even if we get behind we won't roll over and die like Leeds sides of the past. Without the handicaps the Rhinos are 8/5 while the Saints are 8-15, the odds have narrowed slightly over the week. Matt Diskin is 33/1 to repeat his Harry Sunderland Trophy feat of three years ago, while the skipper or Rob Burrow are better bets at 12/1.

It's going to be a fantastic night, hopefully one capped with glory as we lift the trophy while Saints fans trudge into the dark October evening. Have a safe journey and a safe night and get behind the lads 100%.

See you there.

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