Super League: Leeds Rhinos v St Helens preview
Last Updated: 29/08/14 2:52pm
Eddie Hemmings, Tony Rea and Jon Wells preview Leeds Rhinos v St Helens
Newly-crowned Tetley’s Challenge Cup winners Leeds return to Super League action by welcoming leaders St Helens to Headingley on Friday night.
Brian McDermott’s Rhinos ended a sequence of six successive final defeats when they cruised to a 23-10 victory over Yorkshire rivals Castleford Tigers in London to lift the Challenge Cup at Wembley last weekend.
Attention immediately returns to league affairs however, and with just four points separating Saints at the summit from sixth-placed Huddersfield Giants there is plenty to play for in the closing weeks of the regular season.
With just three rounds remaining Leeds are also four points adrift of Nathan Brown’s table-toppers and Friday’s clash in West Yorkshire could play a significant role in the destination of the League Leaders’ Shield.
Prior to their Challenge Cup success the Rhinos lost back-to-back Super League outings, becoming the first side to bow to London Broncos as the capital club ended a run of 23 straight defeats with a 40-36 win at The Hive.
Saints, meanwhile, have lost just one of their last five league matches and recorded a morale-boosting 40-16 win against Wakefield Wildcats in Round 24 after losing to Hull FC the previous week.
McDermott has entrusted the same 17 who played in the Challenge Cup victory against Castleford, with Mitch Achurch and Brad Singleton both coming into the squad.
Despite being named in the 19-man squad for Wembley, Achurch missed the final cut but is determined to using his disappointment as a driving force to success.
"I got the full experience," he explained in the Yorkshire Evening Post. "I did all the training sessions with the boys, I had to know the game plan in and out and I warmed up.
"It didn't really hit me until the end of the game, when obviously we'd won and I wasn't really part of the celebrations.
"It was tough, but it probably drives me a bit harder to be part of this team for hopefully the Super League Grand Final."
After his two tries in the final, Ryan Hall needs just one more to reach 200 career touchdowns, while Rob Burrow is 15 points short of 1000 points for the Rhinos.
For Saints, Lance Hohaia makes his return to the traveling party but Gary Wheeler misses out after sustaining a groin injury, although it is not expected to keep him sidelined for too long.
"If winning Grand Finals was easy everybody would do it. That’s not the case. You have to expend every bit of energy you have to get there."
Leeds may be vying for a league and cup double, but one man determined to thwart their progress and end St Helens' six-year trophy drought is captain Paul Wellens.
"When it comes to the play-offs you want to be battle-hardened and playing intense rugby," he told Boots 'n' All. "That's how it's going to be come that time of year.
"In our final three games we’ll get to see where we're at and what we need to improve on come play-off time.
"If winning Grand Finals was easy everybody would do it. That's not the case. You have to expend every bit of energy you have to get there."
Leeds Rhinos: Hardaker, Watkins, Moon, Hall, McGuire, Burrow, Leuluai, Aiton, Peacock, Jones-Buchanan, Ablett, Sinfield, Delaney, Bailey, Kirke, Achurch, Briscoe, Sutcliffe, Singleton
St Helens: Makinson, Turner, Jones, Swift, Hohaia, Masoe, Roby, McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Soliola, Manu, Laffranchi, Flanagan, Amor, Wellens, Walmsley, Percival, Dawson, Richards, McDonnell
Watch Leeds Rhinos v St Helens live on Sky Sports 1HD on Friday night, with coverage starting from 7:30pm
First Utility Super League
Tue 30th Jun
Hull K R34 - 28Salford Red Devils
Wed 1st Jul
Wakefield Wildcats26 - 16Hull FC
Thu 2nd Jul
Warrington Wolves17 - 6Wigan Warriors
Fri 3rd Jul
Leeds Rhinos46 - 18St Helens
Sun 5th Jul
Huddersfield Giants0 - 0Hull K R
Hull FC0 - 0Wakefield Wildcats
Salford Red Devils0 - 0Catalans Dragons
Castleford Tigers0 - 0Widnes Vikings
Thu 9th Jul
Wigan WarriorsvsLeeds Rhinos
Fri 10th Jul
St HelensvsHuddersfield Giants
Sun 12th Jul
Hull FC0 - 0Castleford Tigers
Salford Red Devils0 - 0Hull K R
Wakefield Wildcats0 - 0Warrington Wolves
Widnes Vikings0 - 0Catalans Dragons
Thu 16th Jul
Warrington WolvesvsSt Helens
Fri 17th Jul
Hull K RvsHull FC
Leeds Rhinos0 - 0Salford Red Devils
Wigan Warriors0 - 0Widnes Vikings
Sat 18th Jul
Catalans DragonsvsHuddersfield Giants
Sun 19th Jul
Wakefield Wildcats0 - 0Castleford Tigers
Thu 23rd Jul
Hull FCvsWigan Warriors
Fri 24th Jul
St Helens0 - 0Hull K R
Sun 26th Jul
Huddersfield Giants0 - 0Wakefield Wildcats
Leeds Rhinos0 - 0Catalans Dragons
Widnes Vikings0 - 0Salford Red Devils
Castleford Tigers0 - 0Warrington Wolves
Super League 2014, round 25
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