Leeds slight favourites to set up Grand Final against local rivals Castleford

Danny McGuire Hull KR

Well follow that Leeds and Hull. The Rhinos host the Airlie Birds for the right to play Castleford at the theatre of dreams next week, and the Tigers win over Saints last night will be some act to follow.

Hull comfortably beat Leeds in the Challenge Cup Semi Final but the Rhinos have home advantage this time and that could be crucial.

Leeds bring back Ferres, Ward and Singleton who sat out last week’s win over Huddersfield whilst Lee Radfords policy of managing his squad as they aim for the double has paid off with only loanee Dean Hadley missing from their 1 to 17.

Last night showed just how important home advantage is in these big games, despite being 2nd best Cas used the passion of the crowd to help get themselves back into the game.
Only time will tell if Radford has made a mistake not going all out to secure 2nd place and the home semi final, but without the power of hindsight I think it could cost them.

Leeds have won their last  12 games with FC at Headingley and haven’t lost a home semi final since 2010.
In fact the last time a semi final was won by the visiting side was in 2012, that year Leeds and Warrington both won away from home to reach Old Trafford.
Bookies make Leeds 4/5 favourites to win this one and with 13 wins from 15 at home I think that’s good value.
They won both home League encounters against Hull, and also won comfortably away at the KCOM over Easter, and can make that a hat trick of wins in a close hard fought encounter.
They’ll be looking to give Mcguire and Burrow the kind of send off Peacock et all got in 2015, the redevelopment at Headingley is a worry as it could dampen the atmosphere a bit but Leeds have the semi final experience to sneak home by around 6-10 points.

Hull have stuttered a bit since Wembley and for all they are in better shape than they were this time last year I just don’t think they’re in the form they were in July when they blitzed Leeds at Doncaster.
Hull’s away form is average with 8 wins from 13 but Headingley is a tough place to go and the Airlie Birds may just have to settle for the  cup again.
They did have a good win at Castleford last week but were unconvincing the week prior against Wakefield.
You can get around 11/10 for an away win, but you can get even money for Hull getting a 2 point start and if you fancy an away win that would be the way to go . Whilst Leeds backers may be safer to take the slightly lesser  odds to qualify for the final in case of extra time. Anyone who backed Cas this way last night at 4/9 will be getting paid whilst backers at the 1/2 80 minute price are throwing betting slips in the bin.

A few fun bets to look out could be the 9/2 that the 1st scoring play is a penalty, in a tight game surely both sides will take the chance to put points on the board or the 11/2 that the game is level at either half time or full time.

Fonua would be my 1st try pick even though he’s favourite at 11/1, Watkins would be my man in Rhinos colours at 14/1.

Finally the man of the match, Parcell was named in the dream team and is definitely Leeds best player this year, he has to be on shortlists at 10/1.
Cuthbertson, back to his best form, is a big value 25/1 chance but it’s Parcell for me.
Sneyds kicking could be crucial, and he is a worthy 8/1 favourite ahead of 9/1 Kelly but Ellis was a key absentee in the loss at Wigan last year and at 20/1 he rates good value on his return to Headingley. He will definitely be on the Sky radar and could be a sentimental choice.

Million pound game tomorrow on this fabulous weekend of our great game, as always please gamble responsibly.

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