Widnes fan: Martin Birrell
I think I speak for most Widnes fans when I say that I’ll be disappointed if we don’t pick up two points this weekend. While we face a champion side in Leeds you’ve got to think that we will be able to take advantage of their antipodean trip last week.
The game against Warrington was as expected in terms of losing the energy battle on the back of a tight turnaround but this week the shoe is on the other foot so can we take advantage?
The loss of Chris Houston for two games for the incident with Phil Bentham won’t hit us as hard as other positions on the field due to the number of players that we have that can come in and play there.
I’d like to see Lloyd White and Danny Walker as the two hookers this week and really speed up our play the balls against what I’m sure will be a tired Leeds side 60 minutes in. Chris Dean should also replace Matty Whitley in the centres. That side looked a little exposed last week against the Wolves.
Leeds have found visits to the Halton Stadium to be fruitless over the last three seasons and I’m backing the Vikings to make it four in a row on Sunday. It’ll be tight but I’m going for the turnaround to see us home.
Prediction: Widnes 24-16 Leeds
Leeds fan: Tom Gilfeather
After the disappointment of the World Club Challenge defeat Leeds head to Widnes to restart our Super League campaign. It’s a shame our first game after Australia isn’t at home but we’ll have to make do, though the Select Security Stadium has hardly been a happy hunting ground for us in recent years.
Our lack of fit front row forwards was really exposed against Melbourne, to the point that it’s concerning going forward for Super League. This becomes increasingly disconcerting considering our recent history of injuries on Widnes’ artificial pitch. I wonder if signing a prop on loan for a month could be a potential solution to our predicament – but the availability of such a player may be very limited. Our other injury worries are worrying but are much more manageable with our reserves at the moment. Having said that, Stevie Ward is a big loss and it showed during the World Club Challenge, but in Ashton Golding we have a very talented replacement for Jack Walker. I hope he goes with that straight replacement option rather than putting Sutcliffe to fullback, indeed we may be forced to play either Sutcliffe or Keinhorst in the back row on Sunday due to injuries. I wouldn’t call it an injury crisis just yet, but we certainly look lightweight compared to the rest of the league right now.
The Vikings’ strong current form should not be underestimated; they were very unlucky to lose by a point to Castleford and were strong against Warrington in their derby. They were written off by most people before the season and have started it clearly with a point to prove. In addition, as we know the Rhinos’ recent history in Widnes is far from stellar. This game is quickly turning into the type of fixture we just need to get through unscathed. Whilst I’d obviously like a win, I’d take a close defeat with no injuries over a win with two or three.
Score Prediction: Widnes 18-24 Leeds