Venue: Headingley Carnegie Stadium.
Date: Thursday, February 26, 2015.
Coverage: Sky Sports 3, BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra.
Leeds Rhinos (from): Hardaker, Briscoe, Watkins, Moon, Hall, McGuire, Burrow, Leuluai, Aiton, Peacock, Jones-Buchanan, Ablett, Sinfield, Ward, Achurch, Cuthbertson, Sutcliffe, Singleton, Walters.
Huddersfield Giants (from): McGillvary, Cudjoe, Wardle, Murphy, Brough, Crabtree, Lunt, Huby, Ferres, Hughes, Bailey, Lawrence, Kopczak, Wood, Ta’ai, Broughton, Mullally, Ellis, Connor.
Leeds Rhinos prop Kylie Leuluai and hooker Rob Burrow both return after sitting out the win over Widnes two weeks ago, while forward Brett Delaney remains on the sidelines with a knee injury.
For Huddersfield, hooker Luke Robinson is rested so Kyle Wood comes into the squad for the first time this season following a serious knee injury he suffered in July last year as Chris Bailey drops out for Michael Lawrence.
The Rhinos have begun the season in good form, following up their 40-30 away victory against Hull KR in round one with an impressive 38-6 win over Widnes at Headingley.
Meanwhile, Huddersfield come into the game on the back of a winless start to the 2015 Super League campaign. They suffered a disappointing 19-0 reverse at home to Hull FC in the opening round, while they fell to a 24-16 defeat at the hands of Wigan on the road two weeks ago.
However, after a one week break for the World Club Series, the Giants will be in confident mood given their good recent record against the Rhinos.
Huddersfield are undefeated in their last seven meetings with Leeds, having won six and drawn one. The Rhinos’ last victory against the Giants was a 34-28 away play-off success on September 23, 2011.
The Giants have also won on their last four visits to Headingley, with the Rhinos’ last home win against Huddersfield coming 21-20 on July 16, 2010.
Danny Brough is sure to be key is the Giants cause and he has scored points in his last 13 games against Leeds (11 for Huddersfield and 2 for Wakefield), with his impressive streak starting in the Wildcats’ 32-30 home defeat by the Rhinos on July 10, 2009.
The Rhinos will be in confident mood after kicking off their season with two wins, while Paul Anderson will be looking for a response from his players after an underwhelming start to the season, so this game will be close. However, I expect Leeds’ momentum to prove too much and they will take the spoils:
Leeds Rhinos 26-18 Huddersfield.
LAST TEN MEETINGS
Leeds 22, Huddersfield 24 (SL R16, 12/6/14)
Huddersfield 12, Leeds 12 (SL R4, 7/3/14)
Huddersfield 40, Leeds 18 (SL R19, 23/6/13)
Huddersfield 24, Leeds 8 (CC R5, 11/5/13)
Leeds 8, Huddersfield 32 (SL R6, 8/3/13)
Huddersfield 48, Leeds 24 (SL R27, 9/9/12)
Leeds 12, Huddersfield 22 (SL R9, 30/3/12)
Huddersfield 28, Leeds 34 (SL PSF, 23/9/11)
Huddersfield 24, Leeds 31 (SL R27, 11/9/11)
Leeds 6, Huddersfield 38 (SL R10, 15/4/11)
SUPER LEAGUE OVERALL RECORD (INC. PLAY-OFFS)
Leeds wins: 25
Huddersfield wins: 8
Leeds highest score: 86-6 (H, 1999) (also widest margin)
Huddersfield highest score: 48-24 (H, 2012) (Widest margin: 38-6, A, 2011)
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