Steve Price’s Wolves face Kevin Sinfield’s Rhinos for a place in the Challenge Cup Final in the second match of the semi-final double header. Here’s everything you need to know…
Steve Price has made one change to his side following their narrow 14-12 loss against league leaders St Helens, with Ben Pomeroy replacing Sitaleki Akauola due to illness. New signing Bodene Thompson will have to wait for his debut, as he is cup tied having played for Leigh earlier in the competition.
Although the Wire are fourth, they would want to forget July, picking up just three points from a possible eight and suffering two narrow defeats against rivals Wigan and St Helens. As they push for the Grand Final in October, they will be looking to pick up some much needed form going into the Super 8s.
Warrington Wolves 19-man squad: K. Brown, M. Brown, Charnley, Clark, Cooper, Goodwin, Hill, Hughes, T. King, G. King, Lineham, Livett, Murdoch-Masila, Patton, Philbin, Pomeroy, Ratchford, Roberts, Westwood.
Kevin Sinfield has made several changes to his side following last week’s defeat to Salford. Ryan Hall, Adam Cuthbertson, Anthony Mullally, Brett Ferres, Jack Walker and Mikolaj Oledzki are all back into the side, replacing Mitch Garbutt, Jimmy Keinhorst, Cameron Smith, Dom Crosby, Luke Briscoe and Jordan Thompson.
With Leeds only winning two games in the last 12 in all completions, this match is seen as do or die for their season, as the champions face the Middle 8s for the second time in three years. They will be desperate to gain some much-needed confidence going into that campaign.
Leeds Rhinos 19-man squad: Golding, Briscoe, Sutcliffe, Hall, Moon, Myler, Cuthbertson, Parcell, Singleton, Jones-Buchanan, Ablett, Dwyer, Mullally, Ferres, Peteru, Handley, Walker, Oledzki, Walters.
HEAD TO HEAD
This is the third meeting of the season between these two sides, with both clubs winning one game each. The last meeting was back in May, when Wire beat Leeds 33-22 with the help of a Harvey Livett hat-trick, in a tightly fought contest that could have gone either way for 60 minutes.
In the Challenge Cup, these two sides have faced each other three times in the last eight years, with Wire winning two and Leeds winning one. The Rhinos ran out 24-16 winners in the last meeting in the 2014 semi-final, on their way to a first Challenge Cup win in over a decade.
KEY BATTLE- Josh Charnley vs Ryan Hall
The battle of the wingers will be critical in this one. In Leeds’ corner is Sydney Roosters-bound Ryan Hall, with the 30-year-old looking to get some silverware in his final year as a Rhinos player. He has been a major star in Super League for the past decade, with his dominance in finishing tries, ease in clearing his lines, and ability to exploit a weak defence. The England international has scored nine tries so far in this campaign and will be hoping to add more here.
His opponent is former Wigan player Josh Charnley. He’s has been in blistering form since his return from rugby union, scoring 19 tries in 18 games in all competitions. With his brutal finishing, clinical footwork, and drive that sees him pushing for try line every time he has the ball, he is someone that Leeds will have to contain if they are going to have any chance of victory.
THE IMPORTANT DETAILS
Date: Sunday 5th August
Venue: University of Bolton Stadium
Referee: Chris Kendall
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WHO WILL WIN?