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The Super Preview - Australian Rugby league News
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globalrugbyleague - Sat, 17 Feb 2007 06:51:00 GMT
After a fiercely contested first full round of fixtures in Super League XII, Harlequins stand proud at the top of the tree following their eight points victory over champions St. Helens. Playing conditions should be fine this weekend, promoting a faster and more expansive brand of rugby league.

Round two kicks off with the Friday night fixture between 2004 Super League champions the Leeds Rhinos and Grand Finalists from last year, Hull FC. Leeds may have made the best off-season recruit judging by Brent Webb’s two try display at the Willows last weekend. Already Sky Sports’ ‘Stevo’ has tipped the kiwi as an outside bet for the Man of Steel. On Friday night, Webb and his team mates will welcome back GB skipper Jamie Peacock after two weeks out nursing a fractured eye socket. The Rhinos though will be without young English stars Nick Scruton (foot) and Ashley Gibson (knee). Hull will be without Captain Lee Radford (flu), as well as last weekend’s absentees Paul Cooke, Paul King, and Willie Manu. The black and whites welcome back three-quarter Richard Whiting, along with Graeme Horne and Motu Tony.

Table toppers Harlequins RL host pointless Salford at the Twickenham Stoop on Saturday evening. The Quins will be boosted by the news that Captain Rob Purdham has signed a two year extension to his contract, committing himself to the club. Following last weekends superb away win at Knowsley Road, Harlequins welcome back from injury Mark McLinden, Daniel Heckenberg and new signing this week from the Bulls, Andy Smith. Salford’s Luke Dorn will be relishing the prospect of retuning to the Twickenham Stoop in the Red of Salford, where I’m sure he will receive a few little reminders of who he used to play for by his ex team mates.

Les Catalans Dragons play their first home fixture of Super League XII against the same team as last year, the Wigan Warriors. Mick Potter’s team will be without influential scrum half Stacy Jones (knee) and forwards Jerome Fakir (hamstring) and Mathieu Griffi (knee). The Warriors are injury free and both teams have named a 20 man squad identical to last weekend.

Warrington will look to build on their shock win over Wigan last weekend as they play host to the Bradford Bulls on Sunday. Warrington are without the outstanding Adrian Morley (fractured left eye socket), halfback Chris Bridge (torn hamstring), and the versatile Simon Grix (shoulder). Full back/winger Brent Grose returns for the Wolves. Bradford forward Sam Burgess has been cleared to play after suffering concussion in their win over Huddersfield. Iestyn Harris returns for the Bulls, meaning that off-season signing David Solomona is likely to switch back to his conventional role of second row.

Huddersfield will hope for their first win of Super League XII when they entertain Hull KR at the Galpharm on Sunday. Jon Sharpe is expected to field the same 17 that narrowly lost out to Bradford last Sunday. Justin Morgan’s 20 man squad has a similar look to that which beat Wakefield last Saturday.

The final fixture of round two involves ESL champions St. Helens travelling to Wakefield. The Wildcats welcome back Duncan MacGillivray after recovering from a hamstring injury and prop Richard Moore has been cleared to play after he faced the RFL disciplinary committee, who reviewed his tackle on Hull KR full back Ben Cockayne. Saints are without skipper Paul Sculthorpe (knee) and Jon Wilkin, who is serving the final game of his two match ban.

MY TIPS FOR ROUND 2: Rhinos to beat Hull FC by 10. Quins to beat Reds by 4. Warriors to beat Dragons by 6. Bulls to beat Wolves by 6. Giants to beat Hull KR by 12. Saints to beat Wildcats by 8. - Read More, Here