It’s the basement battle that no one expected, as struggling Leeds Rhinos and Huddersfield Giants face off at Headingley tonight.
Last season’s champions Leeds and semi-finalists Huddersfield have both lost their first three games and come into what is usually a top-four clash as the only sides in Super League yet to get a point on the board, sitting bottom and second-bottom respectively.
Injuries, suspensions and retirements have added to both sides’ woes, as Leeds and Huddersfield have had to compete with losing a number of key players in the early rounds.
The Giants were dealt another blow this week with the news that Jamie Ellis will be out for ten weeks, but are boosted by return of inspirational captain Danny Brough.
Leeds, meanwhile, remain without captain Danny McGuire, Tom Briscoe and Mitch Garbutt, but add Jamie Jones-Buchanan to their squad.
The Giants’ youngsters put up a brave fight in defeat against Wigan, but struggled as they went down 36-18 to Widnes last Sunday, while Leeds went close to shocking Catalans in the South of France last time out.
The two sides met on four occasions last season, with the Rhinos having a hold over their local rivals, winning three and drawing one. With signs of improvement against Catalans last week, the Rhinos should be able to cover the -12 point handicap (10/11) against a well under-strength Huddersfield outfit.
One thing that will add extra spice to the occasion is the prospect of Brett Ferres facing the Giants for the first time since switching allegiances to Leeds in the winter. He is 2/1 to cross the line against his former employers.
Last season’s Super League top tryscorer Jermaine McGillvary hasn’t quite hit his straps yet in 2016, but he is always a threat for the Giants. McGillvary is alongside Ryan Hall in our Headline Enhanced Double, and you can get 3/1 for them both to score a try at anytime tonight.
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