Venue: Headingley Carnegie Stadium
Leeds Rhinos: Hardaker, Briscoe, Watkins, Moon, Hall, McGuire, Burrow, Leuluai Peacock, Ablett, Sinfield (C), Delaney, Cuthbertson, Singleton, Keinhorst, Walters, Handley, Lilley, Garbutt
St Helens: Makinson, Turner, Jones, Swift, Walsh, Masoe, Roby, Amor, Vea, Wilkin, McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Walmsley, Flanagan, Percival, Richards, Greenwood, Dawson, Savelio, Quinlan
Last five meetings:
Leeds Rhinos 18-32 St Helens – Super 8s Round 4, 2015
Leeds Rhinos 24-14 St Helens – Challenge Cup Semi-Final, 2015
Leeds Rhinos 46-18 St Helens – Round 20, 2015
St Helens 16-41 Leeds Rhinos – Round 11, 2015
Leeds Rhinos 12-13 St Helens – Round 25, 2015
Head coach Keiron Cunningham is hoping to welcome back Man of Steel contender Alex Walmsley to his St Helens side for the the play-off semi-final clash at Leeds Rhinos.
Prop Walmsley, who is on a three-man shortlist for the award alongside Leeds duo Zak Hardaker and Adam Cuthbertson, was sorely missed in last week’s 32-16 defeat to Warrington Wolves.
“We’re relatively healthy at the moment. We’re hopeful Alex Walmsley will be ready as we certainly missed his carry the other day,” Cunningham told the St Helens website.
“We’ve had an extra days prep for this game and that is really important for us. We have a young squad that needs educating and the more time you can put in the better for the club.”
Walmsley’s inclusion in the 19-man squad means Luke Thompson misses out.
Leeds, meanwhile, will be without back-row Stevie Ward after the 21-year-old suffered what looked to be a serious knee injury in the dramatic 20-16 victory at Huddersfield Giants, which snatched the League Leaders’ Shield from Wigan Warriors.
Teenage wing Ash Handley, who has scored two hat-tricks against the reigning champions this season, has been drafted into the squad, although is unlikely to play.
Jordan Lilley, who was an unused substitute at the John Smith’s stadium, may also drop out of the 17 as Rhinos coach Brian McDermott could opt for four forwards on the bench to combat the huge Saints pack.
Prediction: Leeds Rhinos by 7. Leeds have been the best side in the competition this season, but looked to have thrown away the League Leaders’ Shield until Ryan Hall’s heroics. The boost and momentum that will have given the Rhinos players will see them return to their best form – and be too strong for St Helens.
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