Hull Kingston Rovers are the visitors to Headingley on Friday night and must fancy their chances against their hosts, the beleaguered Leeds Rhinos.
LAST TIME OUT
Any momentum gained from their win over Saints was wiped out as Leeds crashed to successive defeats at the hands of their West Yorkshire neighbours Castleford and Wakefield over Easter. Beaten at the Jungle by a late Jake Webster try last Thursday, and defeated at Headingley on Easter Monday, things look bleak for the champions coming into this fixture.
Hull KR, meanwhile, have been given a new lease of life by coach James Webster and although, like Leeds, they emerged from Easter winless, their performances should be a source of great encouragement to the Robins. Losing by just two points in the Hull derby on Good Friday, Rovers went on to give high fliers Wigan a real scare at the DW, romping into an early lead before being ground down to lose 30-16. Two outings, two losses, but many positives in vastly improved showings.
Up front. With giant prop James Green, ex-Rhino Chris Clarkson and hooker Shaun Lunt returning, expect plenty of rock ’em, sock ’em action as the two packs wrestle for supremacy. The Robins will be keen to impose their will on a Leeds pack lacking in confidence and, dare I say it, belief.
Leeds must be alive to Lunt’s speed from dummy half and cannot allow a repeat of the errors that saw Cas and Wakefield find gaping holes in their defensive line. Brett Delaney is named in the squad and coach Brian McDermott will hope the tattooed tackle machine will be available for selection.
This one’s on a knife edge. Will the Rhinos continue to decline? Will the Robins continue their upward trajectory? Both Leeds and KR are boosted by the return of talented playmakers and on-field generals in Danny McGuire and Terry Campese respectively. As much as it pains me to say it, Hull KR will rightly see Leeds as being there for the taking. The Robins fly away with two points and consign the Rhinos to a third consecutive defeat.
Leeds Rhinos: Hardaker, Briscoe, Watkins, Moon, McGuire, Burrow, Galloway, Falloon, Cuthbertson, Jones-Buchanan, Ablett, Sutcliffe, Delaney, Garbutt, Keinhorst, Achurch, Mullally, Walters, Handley.
Hull KR: Allgood, Blair, Campese, Clarkson, Cockayne, Dixon, Green, Greenwood, Horne, Lawler, Lunt, Marsh, Moran, Mulhern, Sio, Thornley, Tilse, Wardill, Walker.