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Super League: Castleford Tigers v Leeds Rhinos preview
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Castleford Tigers will be looking to return to winning ways against fierce West Yorkshire rivals Leeds Rhinos at the Mend-A-Hose Stadium on Thursday night.
The Tigers suffered a heart-breaking 29-28 loss to Huddersfield Giants on Sunday while Brian McDermott's Rhinos ended Wigan Warriors' eight-game winning run at Headingley two days earlier.
Castleford's defeat meant they are two-point behind second-placed St Helens while Leeds are the league leaders with nine wins and a draw from their opening 11 league outings.
The Tigers claimed a famous 14-12 triumph over the Rhinos at home in Round 2 last season before Leeds exacted a measure of revenge with a 42-24 success in the corresponding fixture at home in June.
Former Rhinos head coach Daryl Powell has made two-changes to that which suffered a late defeat at the John Smith's Stadium at the weekend.
The ex-Featherstone Rovers tactician has brought in ex-Rhinos Jordan Tansey and Ashley Gibson to his squad James Clare and Richard Owen. Former Limoux prop Lee Jewitt will have to wait for his Tigers debut.
Powell knows Leeds have one of the best set of backs in the business and that they will be a major threat on Thursday.
"You can't give them any space and sometimes it's very difficult not to give them space. At some point they're going to get some space to come at you," said Powell.
"People like Ryan Hall 107 kilos and Briscoe's as strong as a bull and Zak Hardarker who runs like an antelope, there's threats everywhere."
McDermott has named an unchanged 19-man squad for Leeds' short trip to Castleford with Ben Jones-Bishop and Stevie Ward joining the 17 that the Warriors last week.
That could be an extended run at hooker for stand-in Chris Clarkson with Rob Burrow and Paul Aiton sidelined while Liam Sutcliffe may remain on the substitutes' bench if Danny McGuire and Kevin Sinfield retain their partnership in the halves.
"Cas are going well and it will be very tough. But we have had a couple of tough games over the last few weeks, so we are battle-hardened," Clarkson, who has played in Leeds' last five games, told the Yorkshire Evening Post.
"We know it will be tough at Cas, but we are pretty confident with our defence at the minute. It is going well and we are all working hard for each other, so there's no reason why we can't do that this week."
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.
Don't miss any of the action from the Mend-A-Hose Stadium on Thursday as Castleford Tigers play host to leaders Leeds Rhinos live on Sky Sports 3HD from 7.30pm
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First Utility Super League Table
|5||Hull K R||0||0|
|7||Salford Red Devils||0||0|
|First Utility Super League|
|Thursday 5th February|
|20:00||Widnes vs Wigan|
|Friday 6th February|
|20:00||St Helens vs Catalans Dragons|
|Saturday 7th February|
|15:00||Warrington vs Salford|
|Sunday 8th February|
|15:00||Huddersfield vs Hull|
|15:00||Hull K R vs Leeds|
|15:30||Castleford vs Wakefield|
|Thursday 12th February|
|20:00||Salford vs St Helens|
|Friday 13th February|
|20:00||Hull vs Warrington|
|20:00||Leeds vs Widnes|
|20:00||Wigan vs Huddersfield|
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