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Super League: Leeds Rhinos v Huddersfield Giants preview
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Leeds Rhinos will be out to end their poor run of form against Huddersfield Giants when the sides meet at Headingley on Thursday night.
The Giants won all three meetings between the sides last season while Leeds also failed to win at the John Smith’s Stadium in May when the points were shared following a 12-all draw.
Huddersfield were not in action last weekend having been knocked out of the Tetley's Challenge Cup, although they secured a 31-22 success over reigning league champions Wigan in their previous outing.
Leeds were made to sweat before eventually securing a hard-fought 25-12 triumph over high-flying Leigh Centurions in the Challenge Cup last Thursday, putting them just one win away from a trip to Wembley.
Victory over the Giants will see Leeds return to the top of the table, albeit for possibly only 48 hours prior to St Helens’ clash against Catalan Dragons in the south of France on Saturday.
Leeds head coach Brian McDermott is without full-back Zak Hardaker due to a five-game suspension, however veteran forward Jamie Peacock is available after escaping suspension, but was fined for punching Leigh forward Matt Sarsfield in last weekend's Challenge Cup.
Departing Ben Jones-Bishop is likely to fill in at the back if Hardaker is suspended. Carl Ablett remains suspended while Paul Aiton, Rob Burrow, Jamie Jones-Buchanan, Mitch Achurch are injury casualties.
Rhinos skipper Kevin Sinfield insists their victory over the Centurions took a lot out of the team and he knows Leeds will need to be back to their best to topple the Giants.
“Emotionally and physically we had to put a lot in last Friday. It was Leigh’s cup final,” he told the Yorkshire Evening Post.
“We worked really hard last week trying to fix things up from the Warrington game the week before and that probably took away some of our vigour.
“On Thursday we are coming up against a very good team. We got a draw against them earlier in the year, but they had beaten us the five times before that and I think they are playing better than the table suggests.”
Giants head coach Paul Anderson has made two changes to his 19-man squad for their short trip along the M62.
Former Leeds loanee Shaun Lunt - a Grand Final winner during his time with the Rhinos - is replaced by Craig Kopczak while ex-Salford winger Jodie Broughton replaces Ben Blackmore, who is now with Featherstone Rovers.
“The week off has allowed a few people to get over a couple of little knocks and be fully prepared for what will be a tough test against Leeds. We’ll be fresh and I’m sure that will give us a slight edge,” winger Aaron Murphy told the club’s official website.
“They have loads of great players and obviously we’ve seen them enough times to know what will be coming our way and we feel fully prepared. The game against them earlier on this season was interesting so hopefully we can produce the same performance again but get the win this time.”
Leeds Rhinos: Jones-Bishop, Watkins, Moon, Hall, McGuire, Leuluai, Peacock, Sinfield, S. Ward, Delaney, Bailey, Kirke, Clarkson, Briscoe, Sutcliffe, Singleton, Walters, R. Ward, TBC.
Huddersfield Giants: Grix, McGillvary, Cudjoe, Wardle, Murphy, Brough, Robinson, Crabtree, Kopczak, Ferres, Chan, Bailey, Lawrence, Patrick, Faiumu, Ta'ai, Wood, Broughton, Johnson.
Watch Leeds take on Huddersfield live on Sky Sports 2 at 8pm on Thursday evening.
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First Utility Super League Table
|8||Salford Red Devils||3||2|
|11||Hull K R||2||0|
|First Utility Super League|
|Friday 27th February|
|20:00||St Helens vs Castleford Tigers|
|Saturday 28th February|
|14:00||Catalans Dragons vs Warrington Wolves|
|19:30||Salford Red Devils vs Hull FC|
|Sunday 1st March|
|15:00||Hull K R vs Wigan Warriors|
|15:00||Widnes Vikings vs Wakefield Wildcats|
|Thursday 5th March|
|20:00||Hull FC vs Leeds Rhinos|
|Friday 6th March|
|20:00||Wakefield vs St Helens|
|20:00||Huddersfield Giants vs Widnes Vikings|
|20:00||Castleford Tigers vs Wigan Warriors|
|Saturday 7th March|
|15:30||Catalans Dragons vs Salford Red Devils|
|First Utility Super League|
|Thursday 26th February|
|Leeds Rhinos 28 - 24 Huddersfield Giants|
|Sunday 15th February|
|Wakefield 44 - 24 Hull K R|
|Saturday 14th February|
|Catalans Dragons 13 - 12 Castleford|
|Friday 13th February|
|Hull 6 - 7 Warrington|
|Leeds 38 - 6 Widnes|
|Wigan 24 - 16 Huddersfield|
|Thursday 12th February|
|Salford 6 - 52 St Helens|
|Sunday 8th February|
|Castleford 22 - 24 Wakefield|
|Huddersfield 0 - 19 Hull|
|Hull K R 30 - 40 Leeds|
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