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The Super Preview - Australian Rugby league News
globalrugbyleague - Sat, 21 Jun 2008 09:57:00 GMT
This weekend we see arguably the biggest clash of Super League XIII to date when league leaders Leeds play host to title challengers St Helens on Friday night (live on Sky).

Leeds ran into a banana skin fixture last week, slipping up in the capital against Harlequins, while St Helens continued their imperious mid-season form with a 58-20 drubbing of Bradford.

After Leeds saw their six-game winning streak in the league come to an end, head coach Brian McLennan knows nothing more than what a win will do if they are to hold off St Helens' assault on top spot.

A Leeds win would open up an all but unassailable six-point lead at the top, and the reigning champions have no fresh injury problems to deal with.

Meanwhile, Daniel Anderson will have to do without forwards Nick Fozzard, Mike Bennett, Chris Flannery and Jason Cayless.

The motivation remains, though, and a win for the Merseysiders would cut the gap to two points and really turn the heat up on the Rhinos.

If St Helens leave Headingley empty-handed, then Les Catalans would have the chance to hop above them into second spot with a win over Warrington in Perpignan on Saturday night.

The French side picked up yet another win last week, sinking Wigan 45-38 in an extraordinary game, and have dropped a mere three points since all the way back in Round 5.

Warrington have won two from two since the appointment of James Lowes as Paul Cullen's replacement as head coach, and were boosted by news that he will remain in charge for the rest of the season. Despite that, though, an away win would still be a shock at the home of this year's surprise outfit.

Saturday night's Sky match sees a buoyant Wakefield side travel to the home venue of a Hull KR side seriously lacking in confidence.

Wakefield have no new injury worries, while Rovers have learned that they will have to make do without loose forward Scott Murrell and centre Chev Walker for the remainder of the season.

Rovers have lost four from six, while Wakefield have won four from six, so an away win isn't the worst bet in this one. Coming away from Craven Park with the spoils is always easier said than done, though.

Hull FC upset the odds recently with their 22-16 Challenge Cup quarter-final victory at Bradford, and make a swift return to the Grattan Stadium on Sunday.

Revenge is well and truly on the menu for the Odsal club, who welcome back prop forwards Andy Lynch and Sam Burgess, and hooker Terry Newton from the treatment table.

Steve McNamara still hasn't quite got his strongest squad to choose from, though, with Paul Deacon and Glenn Morrison, captain and vice-captain respectively, and hooker Wayne Godwin still out.

John Agar was boosted by his first Super League win against Castleford last Sunday, and so his side will be brimming with confidence.

But lightning rarely strikes twice at Bradford, so it'd be a mean feat if Hull were to pick up a second Odsal win of the season this weekend.

Perhaps the toughest game to call in round 18 comes at the Galpharm Stadium on Sunday, where Harlequins are the visitors.

The London side haven't won on the road since their 8-6 success at Warrington back in March, but will be full of belief after derailing Leeds' winning run last Saturday.

Harlequins are a strange team, though, and following a win against one of the big teams last week, they're more than capable of not turning up this week.

The Giants are still under the guidance of caretaker bosses Paul Anderson and Keiron Purtill, and have won just two from their last eight.

They are a team out of sorts, but nearly made a late comeback at Wakefield last week, so they do have realistic hopes of a win at home. This is without doubt the game to avoid making predictions in.

To complete the round, Wigan travel to Wheldon Road to face Castleford.

Super League's bottom club have a funny habit of stunning the big sides, with home wins against the top two, so Brian Noble's side will have to approach this match with caution.

His side have won just two from six in the league and their defence has been under scrutiny of late. That will have to change against a side who have a thing or two up their sleeve going forward.

But Terry Matterson's Castleford squad have shipped a massive 581 points so far this season; a home win here would admittedly be a big shock.

Once again it's another anything-can-happen weekend in Super League XIII this weekend,

Whitey’s Predictions:

Leeds v St Helens - Home Win
Hull KR v Wakefield - Away Win
Les Catalans v Warrington - Home Win
Bradford v Hull FC - Home Win
Huddersfield v Harlequins - Home Win
Castleford v Wigan - Away Win - Read More, Here