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Celts on a Crusade
Posted by southstander on April 18 2008 - 07:58:44

'Captain Birdseye' John Dixon

There is way too much Rhinos confidence on the message board about tonights fixture, as we head into the Challenge Cup with a home tie against the Celtic Crusaders.

This is no task to be taken lightly as the Bridgend based club have Cup glory in their sights as they seek to keep their Superleague XIV franchise bid uppermost in the minds of the RFL.

This could be a lot tougher than many are expecting.

We preview the game here...

The Rhinos are still seriously weakened by injuries but it will be a massive relief to see McGuire named in the nineteen as even if he doesn't make the seventeen it shows that he is getting back into contention. Simon Worrall is also back in contention after a week off but yet more youngsters have been drafted in, in the form of; Watkins, Chandler and Jones-Bishop, as cover for Ellis and Bailey who picked up knocks last week against Warrington. Bluey has been forced to mix a nucleus of experience with the hunger of youth. Hopefully there will be enough calm heads there to grab a win against a side who could be a regular fixture come 2009.

The Crusaders are coached by Australian John Dixon and his side definitely has plenty of experience, even if that isn't at the very highest level in the game. Ex-Rhino Jamie I'Anson will have the inside track and is sure to figure and others in the side have playing experience at Hull KR, Leigh, 'Quins, Brisbane and Cronulla. A high position finish in National League One is important, but a cup run, and especially a win over the World Champions would be a major boost for the Celtic Crusaders profile.

Three Crusaders to watch;


Van Dijk

Tangata Toa

Lennon

This is the first ever meeting between the two sides. The Crusaders Motto 'Oderint dum metuant' ('Let them hate, so long as they fear') suggests a seige mentality and if they play with this in their hearts we could be in for a tough night.

Southstander.com Prediction
Rhinos 32 18 Crusaders

The Rhinos got a good, hard fought win last week against the Wolves and will need to be on similar form tonight. After winning promotion from National League Two last season, the Crusaders are currently mid-table in NL1 with two wins and two losses. They lost heavily (44-16) at Whitehaven last weekend, but then their minds may well have been on tonight.

The bookies haven't put the handicap up yet but I would expect they will be giving the visitors 20 to 24 start, which I think we'll struggle to catch.

It should remain dry this evening but won't be warm (down almost to freezing) and there could be a bit of a wind blowing.

Fingers crossed we're in the hat next week, but don't be surprised if we really have to work for it.

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