Match preview: Castleford Tigers v Leeds Rhinos

It is 3rd versus 1st in the Super League this evening, as Castleford Tigers and Leeds Rhinos lock horns in what will be a hugely anticipated West Yorkshire derby. With local pride – as well as competition points – up for grabs, the tension is expected to be enormous at the Mend-A-Hose Jungle, as two of the form sides in the division do battle in a Thursday thriller, live on Sky Sports.

And both sides could well field relatively unchanged teams this evening, despite contrasting fortunes last time out. Castleford may bring Liam Finn back into the fray after he was left out for last Sunday’s 29-28 defeat at Huddersfield, akin with Daryl Powell’s rotation policy that he has used throughout the campaign so far. James Clare will definitely miss out after he was dropped from the 19-man squad, with Jordan Tansey looking like a direct replacement at full-back to face his old side.

As for the Rhinos, they could bring Ben Jones-Bishop into the fray as Brian McDermott looks to tinker with his backline ahead of the trip to their local rivals, but he has named an unchanged 19-man squad. Rob Burrow and Paul Aiton are still unavailable, meaning the likes of Liam Sutcliffe will continue to fill in across the park.

The Squads
Castleford Tigers: Tansey, Dixon, Shenton, Webster, Carney, Sneyd, Lynch, Milner, Huby, Millington, Hauraki, Clark, Holmes, Mariano, Wheeldon, Ellis, Gibson, Channing, Finn.

Leeds Rhinos: Hardaker, Jones-Bishop, Watkins, Moon, Hall, McGuire, Leuluai, Peacock, Ablett, Sinfield, Ward, Delaney, Bailey, Kirke, Clarkson, Achurch, Briscoe, Sutcliffe, Singleton.

The Stats
Ryan Bailey needs one appearance to reach 300 for Leeds. Bailey made his Rhinos debut off the bench in a 36-32 win at Wakefield on 28 June, 2002.

Andy Lynch needs one appearance to reach 150 for Castleford. Lynch is in his second spell with the Tigers – playing 137 games in six seasons after making his debut off the bench in a 36-22 home Challenge Cup win against Hull FC on 14 February, 1999. He made his second debut in a 36-18 win at Bradford on 16 February, and has played 12 games in the 2014 season.

Leeds’ Kevin Sinfield drew level with St Helens’ Paul Wellens as the all-time Super League leader for appearances last weekend, after leading the Rhinos to a 28-12 victory against Wigan on Friday night. Wellens, who was one game ahead of Sinfield after the Easter rounds of the competition, did not play in Saints’ 48-18 win against London Broncos last Thursday.

The Prediction
Although Castleford will no doubt make the Mend-A-Hose Jungle a ferocious place to come and play tonight, Leeds’ form is magnificent, and they should be too strong for a Tigers that will be resolute and a tough test for the Rhinos.