St Helens vs Leeds Rhinos
Competition: English Super League
Date: 9th February 2017
Location: Totally Wicked Stadium, St Helens
Kick-off: 21:00 CET
St Helens and Leeds have traditionally been heavyweights in the Super League, in the 21 previous premierships since the overhaul of Rugby League in England, sharing 13 of the championships. 2016, though did not go exceptionally well for either club, particularly Leeds who fell to an awful 9th missing the Finals series, while the Saints lost to Warrington in the first semi-final. Leeds were rather quiet on the transfer market in the offseason, adding just 2 youngsters and Matt Parcell who has suffered injury riddled seasons in Australia, leaving him on the outer with Manly. St Helens though added some serious starch in the middle of the park, luring the signature of Luke Douglas from the Gold Coast Titans and Ryan Morgan, as well as other solid English players, Tommy Lee, Matty Smith and Adam Walker.
Leeds are seemingly relying on the old-faithful type players to rebound from their awful 2016; who have mountains of experience as elite players in this competition. Players such as Rob Burrow, Danny McGuire, Tom Briscoe and Australian enforcers Keith Galloway and Adam Cutherbertson will be crucial to their success. It will certainly be interesting to see how St Helens handle life after playmaker Luke Walsh and reliable Fullback Shannon McDonnell.
St Helens vs Leeds Rhinos: Head to Head Stats
St Helens have won just 2 of their last 6 against Leeds, but did taste success in their last encounter, back in April 2016, when they managed to get away with a 4-point win in a high scoring affair. Star winger Jonny Lomax and Backrower James Greenwood each scored 2 tries, with Jimmy Keinhorst bagging a double for Leeds.
Leeds have plenty of reasons for optimism though, as 2 of their 4 wins were with margins of 12 and 28, as well as a 10-point victory. Thus, although there will be some mental scarring from the poor 2016 season, fine results are easily found, remembering their premiership success of 2015.
St Helens vs Leeds Rhinos: Prediction
A fitting start to what should be a very strong season of Super League competition, with both teams expected to feature heavily. The battle of the ruck will be the decisive factor in this one, with Australian big men prominent, particularly Luke Douglas for St Helens and Galloway and Cuthbertson for the visiting Rhinos.
Inexperienced Scrum Half Danny Richardson for St Helens has a huge job to do, replacing Luke Walsh, while Matty Smith recovers from injury, and will be put straight into a litmus test against the quality Leeds playmakers, Danny McGuire and Rob Burrow. High quality finishing is expected from the outside-backs on display, in particular Lomax and Ryan Morgan for St Helens and Tom Briscoe, Joel Moon and Ryan Hall for Leeds.
St Helens vs Leeds Rhinos: Tips
- Leeds by a whisker, probably a single point margin.
- An entertaining affair, with more than 40 points aggregate.
Other Super League previews:
- Wakefield Trinity vs Hull FC
- Salford Red Devils vs Wigan Warriors
- Catalans Dragons vs Warrington Wolves
- Castleford Tigers vs Leigh Centurions
- Widnes Vikings vs Huddersfield Giants