Match preview: Leeds Rhinos v Huddersfield Giants

Leeds Rhinos and Huddersfield Giants kick off this weekend’s Super League action with what is expected to be a thunderous West Yorkshire derby at Headingley Carnegie. With the Rhinos being made to work for their place in the semi-finals of the Tetley’s Challenge Cup last weekend against Leigh, backing up against a rejuvenated Giants outfit will be no easy task.

And the Rhinos will be without star full-back Zak Hardaker, who is beginning a five-match ban after being found guilty of using verbal abuse based on sexual preference. However, prop Jamie Peacock is available after avoiding a ban for punching in last week’s Challenge Cup win over Leigh.

Huddersfield Giants coach Paul Anderson has made two changes to the squad from the win over Wigan last time out. Shaun Lunt is replaced by Craig Kopczak and Jodie Broughton comes in for Ben Blackmore.

The Squads
Jones-Bishop, Watkins, Moon, Hall, McGuire, Leuluai, Peacock, Sinfield, S. Ward, Delaney, Bailey, Kirke, Clarkson, Briscoe, Sutcliffe, Singleton, Walters, R. Ward, Minchella.

Huddersfield: Grix, McGillvary, Cudjoe, Wardle, Murphy, Brough, Robinson, Crabtree, Kopczak, Ferres, Chan, Bailey, Lawrence, Patrick, Faiumu, Ta’ai, Wood, Broughton, Johnson.

The Stats
Huddersfield are undefeated in their last six meetings with Leeds, having drawn one and won five. The Rhinos’ last victory against the Giants was a 34-28 away play-off success on 23 September, 2011.

The Giants have also won on their last three visits to Headingley, with the Rhinos’ last home win against Huddersfield coming 21-20 on 16 July, 2010.

Danny Brough has scored points in his last twelve games against Leeds (10 for Huddersfield and 2 for Wakefield). His streak began in the Wildcats’ 32-30 home defeat by the Rhinos on 10 July, 2009.

The Prediction
There could well be a bit of an upset on the cards in West Yorkshire tonight. With no Zak Hardaker and Huddersfield in excellent form, the Giants could well be the team worth backing in tonight’s Thursday clash.

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