LEEDS RHINOS will take on Widnes Vikings at Halton Stadium tomorrow afternoon aiming to make it two wins in four days and consolidate third place in Betfred Super League. Here are five talking points ahead of the game.
1: Nine places and 15 points separate the sides in the Super League table, but it is unlikely to be an easy afternoon for Leeds who lost 38-24 at Widnes in the 2015 treble-winning season and 56-12 last year.
Widnes have been very poor this term, but gave Castleford Tigers a fright on Friday and have some good young players, including winger Ryan Ince who had a spell on loan at Hunslet earlier this year.
Rangi Chase’s home debut is another threat to Rhinos, but if Leeds are to challenge for the top-four this year games like this and Friday’s visit of second-bottom Leigh Centurions are ones they must win.
2: The official aim was much higher, but realistically – after finishing ninth last year – Rhinos’ initial challenge for 2017 must have been to qualify for the Super-8s.
Twenty points is reckoned to be the target and Leeds have reached that. That’s 14 points more than they had this time last year, when they were rock bottom. There is a long way to go before they look like title contenders and more consistency is needed, but Rhinos are slowly heading in the right direction and last Friday’s performance showed they have it in them, all be it the opposition were poor on the night.
3: With Ashton Golding ruled out due to a hamstring injury, Liam Sutcliffe is likely to begin tomorrow’s game at full-back, having also started games in both centre positions, at stand-off, scrum-half, second-row and on the bench.
There’s a danger of him becoming a Jack of all trades, but Sutcliffe is a real talent who is starting to fulfil his potential.
4: James Segeyaro did Rhinos a favour by not seeing out his contract. His replacement, Matt Parcell, is proving to be one of the season’s best signings.
5: Super League will miss Rob Burrow when he eventually calls it a day. His performance and late try against Warrington were a reminder of what a sensational playewr he has been – and still is.