Leeds Rhinos vs St Helens: Team news, match preview and score prediction

This is always one of the biggest games of the season, and that is still the case now even though the gap between the two teams feels as big as ever.

For the first time since 2019, fans will be treated to this fixture at Headingley in person but the Leeds faithful most likely won’t be expecting a win after a disastrous start to the campaign which was compounded last week when Leeds were dumped out of the cup making it the first time in 30 years that Leeds have failed to play in a Challenge Cup semi-final for consecutive seasons. A visit from the Champions is the last thing they need especially as it serves as a reminder that it’s been a long time since they’ve competed with them at the top.

As for St Helens, they’re the team to beat and are three times the reigning Champions. Striving to top the Rhinos’ record of three consecutive Super League titles achieved at St Helens’ expense from 2007-09, they could put Leeds in their place tomorrow as they look to lay down another marker in their title crusade.

Team News:

Leeds will have to make one change to their 17 following Brad Dwyer’s ban for tripping. He joins Zane Tetevano who will serve the second of his own two game suspension tomorrow. There will be no David Fusitu’a with the winger requiring surgery whilst Leeds also confirmed that Harry Newman is set to be out for 12 weeks owing to his own lot of surgery.

Saints are boosted by the return of prop Alex Walmsley after two games out. Morgan Knowles will also return to the 17 after missing St Helens’ win over Whitehaven in the cup last week. James Roby is set to become only the fourth Saint to play 500 games for the club whilst someone at the opposite end of their career Josh Simm will remain on the wing with Regan Grace being forced back out of the side exacerbating his injury hit start to 2022. Will Hopoate, Matty Lees and Sione Mata’utia remain unavailable through injury.

Match Preview – Key Battles:

Jack Walker vs Jack Welsby: There was once a time when Jack Walker was seen as the future of the England fullback spot. However, injuries and the rise of Jack Welsby has seen the Saints youngster instead cement himself as the man many believe will take on the role in the years to come. A superb player in attack both as a runner and a creative spark, he’ll be a major threat to Leeds’ defence. However, he won’t have it all his own way. Walker has really improved since his return from injury and has been one of Leeds’ best performers at this difficult time.

Kruise Leeming vs James Roby: Super League’s all-time greatest number nine takes on the hooker who took the spot in the Super League Dream Team in 2021 as James Roby and Kruise Leeming do battle. Both captains of prestigious clubs and both capable of outstanding performances, this could be a fascinating tussle. However, even with Roby set to make his 500th appearance, he may not start with Joey Lussick doing a sound job as the starting nine in recent weeks. Saints’ ability to freshen up this role which Leeds may be unable to emulate owing to Brad Dwyer’s suspension could be key for the Champions.

Rhyse Martin vs Joe Batchelor: Last year could be described as Joe Batchelor’s break out season as he proved to be the ideal all-round backrow for St Helens going someway to replacing the Leeds bound James Bentley. Always improving, he’ll be met by the challenge of Bentley and Rhyse Martin tomorrow night. Martin has been a shining light in a dark season for the Rhinos even scoring twice in last week’s defeat. He may be the one to inspire a performance from his side.

Where the game will be won and lost:

Leeds have had no trouble making metres in 2022 despite their struggles. They have the third most in the league just after St Helens in second place. However, Leeds have had difficulties scoring and against the league’s meanest defence that issue will be compounded. It also has to be said that St Helens have routinely powered through the Rhinos’ pack in the past as they did last season. This could lead to Leeds’ seventh defeat of the season.

Score Prediction: Leeds Rhinos 10-42 St Helens

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