Cautious boss Brian McDermott expects the form book to go out the window when his Leeds Rhinos side visit Castleford Tigers tonight.
Tigers are on a run of three consecutive defeats, including a 46-4 home thrashing by Wigan Warriors five days ago.
By contrast Rhinos have won their last two, beating Manly Sea Eagles in the World Club Challenge a fortnight ago, followed by last Sunday’s 44-16 romp at Widnes Vikings.
Those results will make Leeds strong favourites this evening, but McDermott knows his team can take nothing for granted.
“There are certain fixtures for each club that go against the form book,” he warned. “It is almost like a Challenge Cup feel to it in that they throw caution to the wind and just come at us.
“All the Cas fans love Leeds going there and they like nothing better than their club turning over the Rhinos.
“We are aware of that, we have all mentioned that this will be a big one and we know they will be better this week.”
McDermott reckons last Sunday’s result will make Tigers tougher opposition tonight.
“That’s what happens,” he added. “I know it’s very low-level psychology, but they got a job done on them last weekend, so the following game they will be more focused.
“I think they will be more intense as well. I think they perhaps lacked a bit of focus and energy last week, but that was understandable.”
Assistant-coach Stuart Donlan will take charge of Tigers for a second game, with team boss Ian Millward away on compassionate leave following the recent death of his teenage son, Robbie.
McDermott said: “The whole club is in a tough situation, none more so than their head coach. We all send our condolences.
“I am sure Ian Millward will want to get back to work as soon as he can, but Stuart Donlan is still in charge this week and I am sure he will do what needs to be done and there will be a difference this week.”
From Rhinos’ point of view, the plan is to carry on from where they left off against Widnes five days ago.
“That was potentially a very dangerous fixture for us,” McDermott said. “After the energy we invested the week before, I thought that was a big one for us.”
Jamie Peacock, pictured above, is set to feature for Rhinos after being rested last week, Chris Clarkson returns to the initial 19 in place of Weller Hauraki (calf) and young hooker Liam Hood looks set to make his debut.
Lee Smith (ribs), Jamie Jones-Buchanan (knee) and Ryan Bailey (Achilles) remain on the injury list.
Castleford Tigers: from Owen, Youngquest, Dixon, McGoldrick, Griffin, Chase, Orr, Emmitt, Milner, Nash, Holmes, Mitchell, Jones, Clark, Snitch, Massey, Grehan, Millington, Ferres.
Leeds Rhinos: from Webb, Jones-Bishop, Watkins, Hardaker, Hall, Sinfield, McGuire, Leuluai, Burrow, Peacock, Delaney, Clarkson, Ablett, Griffin, Kirke, Hood, McShane, Moore.
Referee: James Child (Dewsbury).
Kick-off: Tonight, 8pm.