Tetleys Challenge Cup semi final: Leeds Rhinos v Warrington Wolves preview
Last Updated: 10/08/14 2:48pm
Warrington Wolves and Leeds Rhinos meet once again in Tetley's Challenge Cup action on Saturday, but this time the pair are playing at Langtree Park and not Wembley.
The duo contested the 2010 and 2012 finals in the capital with Warrington running out winners on both occasions - 30-6 and 35-18 respectively.
Leeds were dumped out of the competition by Huddersfield Giants in the fifth round last season while Warrington suffered a surprise 16-12 semi-final exit to losing finalists Hull FC.
Super League matches between the duo have been split this term with Leeds running out 18-12 winners on home soil with the Wolves exacting a measure of revenge with a 24-6 victory in May.
Leeds Rhinos and Warrington Wolves have met 21 times in the Challenge Cup, with 10 wins apiece and one draw.
Eight-time Challenge Cup champions Wolves gathered momentum ahead of the semi-final by holding out to beat Catalan Dragons 26-24 in Perpignan after back-to-back defeats.
Conversely, Brian McDermott’s Leeds enter the final four on the back of a momentum-stifling 20-14 reverse at the hands of the already-relegated Bradford Bulls, though, Wolves coach Tony Smith remains wary of the threat posed by the Rhinos.
"They've got internationals and former internationals right across the park. They've got some good experienced players and some good young players that are coming through," Smith told the club’s official website.
"They have some dangerous players who can hurt you if you make too many mistakes but we've also got some of those ourselves so hopefully they'll have to cope with us rather than us cope with them."
Although Leeds have 11 Challenge Cup titles to their name, they have not lifted the trophy since 1999. Despite the Wolves’ recent record in the knockout competition – triumphing in 2009, 2010 and 2012 – Rhino Jamie Jones-Buchanan is desperate to end Leeds’ drought and add the missing medal to his collection.
"It would be incomplete but I've got a funny way of looking at things," he said.
"If you had a big jigsaw framed on the wall and had one piece missing, that's the most interesting part of it. There would always be a story as to where this piece went.”
Following their deflating defeat last weekend, McDermott welcomes back a host of pivotal players as their quest for a 12th title reaches a crucial juncture, none less than captain Kevin Sinfield.
Former Great Britain and England international Sinfield returns to action after serving the first ban of his illustrious career, while Kallum Watkins, Joel Moon, Carl Ablett, Stevie Ward and Ryan Bailey are all called back into the Rhinos squad.
Meanwhile, Smith has made three changes to the squad which survived a late scare in a drenched south of France last Friday, with Ryan Atkins, Micky Higham and Matthew Russell all returning.
Ben Currie, Brad Dwyer and James Laithwaite are the men to miss out on the crunch clash, which will see the winner book a Wembley date with either Widnes Vikings or Castleford Tigers.
Leeds Rhinos: Hardaker, Watkins, Moon, Hall, McGuire, Burrow, Leuluai, AIton, Peacock, Jones-Buchanan, Ablett, Sinfield, Ward, Delaney, Bailey, Kirke, Briscoe, Sutcliffe, Walters
Warrington Wolves: Asotasi, Atkins, Bridge, England, Evans, Grix, Harrison, Higham, Hill, J Monaghan, M Monaghan, Myler, O’Brien, Ormsby, Ratchford, Russell, Waterhouse, Westwood, Wood