Rhinos to get it right
Ian Millward previews Saturday's Challenge Cup final - and the weekend's key NRL action.
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Leeds v Castleford +8
The Rhinos are worthy favourites here. They are an experienced side who are used to playing in Challenge Cup and Grand finals. However they’ve come up short at Wembley of late and know they need to add a victory in this tournament to their CV to be considered a great side.
I think they’ll do just that – and cover the start. Castleford have had a wonderful season and to make the final is the icing on the cake for them. They’ll want to go on and win it now but I do think the injury to Craig Huby is a big blow.
He always causes Leeds problems with his footwork and offloads – but if he plays, is he going to be fully fit and right at his best?
The big field at Wembley will play to Leeds’ strengths. They have outstanding centres, wingers and half backs. Ryan Hall has a great record at this venue and I’ll be siding with him for the first try – with a small saver on Tom Briscoe on the other flank.
Jamie Peacock is certain to make a bold bid for the Lance Todd Trophy but I just prefer Kevin Sinfield. He’s been in the media spotlight following his sending off against the Tigers in their league game but we know all about his qualities. If the Rhinos are to win, as I expect, he’ll be at the heart of the performance.
Expect a high scoring game too. We’ve already mentioned the quality of the Leeds three quarters but Castleford have plenty of firepower too. It should be a cracker – with Leeds easing to victory in the final 20 minutes.
Rabbitohs v Cowboys +10
South Sydney are the form team of the NRL at the moment – they’re running very hot. However I do like the Cowboys with the start here. They are backing up from a narrow loss to Penrith on Monday night and will be looking to make a statement as to where they are right now. They’d like to win to move a little higher up the league ladder, and on a wet surface I wouldn’t rule that out.
Broncos v Knights +10
Brisbane must win this one to stay in the race for the play-offs. The Knights are in good form right now and have beaten two top eight sides in the last fortnight. However I’m with the home side to win and cover. They are a very mobile side and Newcastle can lack a little speed in the forwards. With so much at stake for them it has to be the Broncos.
- Preview posted at 1500 BST on 21/08/2014.