Playoff Preview: Leeds Rhinos vs Hull KR


Previous meetings: Leeds won both games this season, but they were close. They were fairly lucky to scrape a 19-10 victory at Craven Park earlier in the season, and they won the return game 24-14. The Robins have only beaten Leeds once in Super League, and that was their first meeting with them in 2007, although no game between the two in that time has been decided by more than 16 points. 

Form: This favours Leeds at the minute, who have won eleven of their last twelve games and finished the season looking ominous, although they were pushed hard by both St Helens and (surprisingly) Salford. Hull KR looked to be in good form with a five-match winning streak, but that came to an end in a rather flat performance against Wakefield last Saturday that Justin Morgan will hope was an aberration. 

Injury Concerns: None really for Leeds, although Kevin Sinfield is returning from a cheekbone injury. Hull KR might a little worried about the condition of Scott Murrell and especially Shaun Briscoe (as might England). 

Thoughts: The key to this game will probably be whether Michael Dobosn and Paul Cooke can exert their influence on this game. Last week at Wakefield they failed to do this and as a result the KR side looked lifeless and completely unthreatening. Briscoe leaving the field probably didn’t help with that either, but it’s important that Hull KR find an attacking edge in this game. 

Of course, a strong performance from the forward pack would help with that, and Clint Newton and Ben Galea have been immense for the Robins this year and will need to continue in that vein of form for any chance of successs. The thing about Leeds is that their midfield triangle of Rob Burrow, Danny McGuire and Sinfield make for a difficult trifecta to defend against because none of them dominate procedings – they spread the work around. If Hull KR can get in their faces early, especially Sinfield (who’s probably the no.1 organiser there) then that too will increase their chances of victory.

Something that will definitely be in Leeds’ favour though is their attacking form, which has been fantastic. Leeds have scored at least five tries in four of their last five games, the exception being the St Helens game (which they still won). Ryan Hall must surely have booked himself a spot on the wing for England’s Four Nations campaign. In an intriguing battle Peter Fox, who will be lining up opposite Hall for The Robins, will be trying to prove that he deserves to be there as well. 

In Conclusion… It might end up being close, but I find it very hard to see anything other than a Leeds victory here. They appear to have hit form at exactly the right time and Hull didn’t look up to the task last week. I imagine we’ll get a fairly tight first half, before Leeds dominate for a long enough spell to put the game out of reach.


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