Leeds Rhinos v St Helens scene-setter: opposition star man, key battle, previous meeting and verdict
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The reigning champions have not lost to Leeds at Headingley since a 16-14 defeat in the Super-eights in August 2017.
After their win at TW Stadium in March, Rhinos could achieve their first home and away double over Saints since 2015. Here’s a scene-setter.
Betfred Super League round 13
Where and when?
Date: Friday, May 26
Saints’ star man: Veteran hooker James Roby was rested when Saints beat Halifax Panthers in the Betfred Challenge Cup last week, but is back in the squad for the trip to Headingley. The 37-year-old recently made his club record 532nd St Helens appearance and is high on the list of the greatest and most influential players in Super League history.
Key battle: Saints are without Matty Lees and Morgan Knowles, but Rhinos’ young middles Mikolaj Oledzki and Tom Holroyd will have their hands full against Alex Walmsley, who remains the standard-bearer for English Super League props and will be keen to put two of his challengers in their place.
Previous meeting: March 3, 2023. Betfred Super League round three. Saints 24 (Tries Dodd 2, Lussick, Percival. Goals Makinson 4), Rhinos 25 (Tries Martin 2, Handley, Smith. Goals Martin 4. Drop goal Austin). Referee: Chris Kendall. Attendance: 15,130.
Verdict: It was about this time last year when Rhinos began to click into the gear which took them all the way from relegation danger to Old Trafford. There’s no risk of the drop this time, but they need to get cracking to secure a top-six spot. Injuries to stand-off Blake Austin and several first-choice forwards won’t help and a strong Saints side will be fired up to avenge the one-point defeat in March. Leeds have proved they are capable of beating the champions, but another 40-minute performance won’t do.