Super League preview: Warrington Wolves v Leeds Rhinos
Last Updated: 05/07/13 9:20pm
The 2012 finalists go head-to-head once again on Friday as the high-flying Warrington Wolves play host to champions Leeds Rhinos at the Halliwell Jones Stadium.
The Wolves drew first blood last season in retaining the Challenge Cup trophy with a 35-18 success over Leeds at Wembley before the Rhinos exacted revenge at Old Trafford with a 26-18 win in the Grand Final.
Leeds claimed first blood in the teams' only meeting in 2013 with the Rhinos running out 28-22 wins at Headingley in April with England international Ryan Hall helping himself to two tries.
However, the Wolves come into the contest with a five-point lead over Leeds, although the Rhinos have a game in hand, and sit just one point behind leaders Wigan Warriors.
Warrington are nearly at full strength as the experienced Chris Bridge is back in action while Ben Harrison is also nearing a return to first-team duty.
The Wolves have brought back prop Chris Hill, hooker Micky Higham and winger Joel Monaghan after they were rested against the Bulls but Richie Myler remains sidelined with a knee injury so Stefan Ratchford continues in the scrum-half role.
The Wolves brushed aside the Bradford Bulls last time out and while Leeds have a number of injuries to regulars their former head coach Tony Smith expects the Headingley youngsters to impress.
"Leeds have got some young, enthusiastic players in at the moment along with a reasonable number of international players so they'll be a really tough test for us," said Smith.
"We've had some great encounters with them over the last few years; some of which we've come out on top, some they have, so we are looking forward to it on Friday. A Friday evening at the Halliwell Jones against Leeds is a mouth-watering prospect for all concerned."
Leeds have named an unchanged 19-man squad to the tricky-looking trip across the M62 with teenager Alex Foster, who made his debut in last weekend's win at Widnes, retaining his place.
Kallum Watkins and Joel Moon returned to action from injury and suspension respectively against the Vikings while youngsters Jordan Baldwinson and Thomas Minns also have a chance of featuring.
Warrington Wolves: Atkins, C. Bridge, Briers, Carvell, Cooper, Currie, Grix, Higham, Hill, Hodgson, McCarthy, J. Monaghan, M. Monaghan, Morley, Ratchford, C. Riley, Waterhouse, Westwood, Wood.
Leeds Rhinos: Hardaker, Jones-Bishop, Watkins, Moon, Hall, Burrow, McShane, Peacock, Ablett, Kirke, Clarkson, Achurch, Moore, Keinhorst, Singleton, Sutcliffe, Minns, Baldwinson, Foster.