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globalrugbyleague - Sat, 24 Feb 2007 08:52:00 GMT
Another closely contested round of ESL fixtures leaves the Huddersfield Giants now the only team without a point. The Giants get a rest this weekend as they lost their round three fixture to St. Helens three weeks ago.

This week all the hype has been over the Carnegie World Club Challenge and whether or not St. Helens can bounce back from consecutive shock losses to defeat Wayne Bennett’s Brisbane Broncos. Super League steps aside on Friday night as St. Helens and the Brisbane Broncos will battle it out for the title of World Club Champions in Bolton. After a winning start to their Super League XII campaign, the Saints have suffered back to back shock defeats at the hands of Harlequins then Wakefield.

Daniel Anderson’s treble winners will have to raise their game against the NRL premiers if they want to take away the prize. The conditions at the Reebok will not favour either side who both like to play a fast and exciting brand of rugby league. For Saints, Captain Paul Sculthorpe, Maurie Fa’asavalu, and Ian Hardman all miss out through injury, although Jason Hooper has been included in the 18 man squad, despite requiring shoulder surgery. Brisbane’s 17 man squad does not feature winger Tame Tupou and instead features 20 years old rookie Steven Michaels. The key battle in this game is going to be between the halves Sean Long and Golden Boot holder Darren Lockyer. Let the fireworks begin!

Round three of Super League XII kicks off with Wigan travelling to league leaders Bradford. This is set to be an emotional affair for Warriors coach Brian Noble, who returns to the Grattan Stadium for the first time to face the Bulls since leaving for Wigan. Noble has named an unchanged 18 man squad for the game, after second row Gareth Hock escaped a ban in his RFL disciplinary hearing, instead receiving a £600 fine as punishment for his spear tackle on Catalans’ Jason Croker. Chris McKenna, Andy Lynch and Ian Henderson return for the Bulls who will look to make it three wins out of three.

Les Catalans host their second Super League fixture at the Stade Gilbert Brutus against the in-form Leeds Rhinos. Both sides played in conditions fit for marine life last week and will be hoping for less torrential conditions on Saturday evening. The Rhinos will be without Nick Scruton for some time after suffering a stress fracture to his left foot and hooker Matt Diskin, who picked up a groin injury during last weekend’s win over Hull FC. Rob Burrow or Gordon Tansey is likely to take-up Diskin’s role, whilst Ashley Gibson returns for the Rhinos. The Dragons will line up once again without influential scum half Stacey Jones, along with Jerome Fakir and Mathieu Griffi. Les Catalans will be hoping to record their first win of the campaign, whilst Leeds will want to continue their 100% winning start.

Hull KR has been the surprise team of Super League XII so far, after the newly promoted club won both their opening two fixtures. The Robins host Harlequins RL on Sunday, who will be feeling mixed emotions following their draw with Salford last weekend. Daniel Heckenberg is the only absentee for the Quins and the Robins are without the influential Chris Chester. Both teams at the start of Super League XII were tipped as relegation candidates, and they will both want to remain unbeaten at the end of round three.

After defeating Super League XI champions St. Helens last week, John Kear has been telling the media that his Wakefield side want to finish in the top six. They host Salford on Sunday, who blew the chance of chalking up a first win last weekend. Salford’s squad includes ex-Wildcat Michael Korkidas who will come up against his old team mates for the first time since leaving the club in the off-season. Wakefield’s win last week came at a cost as Sam Obst broke his wrist and is expected to be out of action for around six weeks.

The final game of round three involves Warrington and Hull FC. The Wolves will be without Chris Bridge, Adrian Morley, Simon Grix, and Richie Barnett. Hull welcome back skipper Lee Radford along with talisman Paul Cooke, Motu Tony, Willie Manu, and Paul King. Hull will be without centre Sid Domic, who suffered concussion against Leeds in round two. Last year’s Grand Finalists are still looking for their first win of Super League XII.

MY TIPS FOR ROUND 3: WCC – Saints to beat Broncos by 1. Warriors to beat Bulls by 8. Rhinos to beat Dragons by 16. Quins to beat Hull KR by 10. Reds to beat Wildcats by 4. Hull FC to beat Warrington by 6. - Read More, Here