â€œDavid v Goliathâ€
Saturday 29th August, Wembley Stadium hosts the Iconic Challenge Cup final. First held in 1897, it remains the most historic and prestigious knock out tournament in the world of Rugby League.
This year we find defending Champions and 12 times winners the Leeds Rhinos, pitted against Hull KR, victorious only once in 1980, and last appeared in the show piece final some 29 years ago in 1986.
Thinking of the title of the article, I named it â€œDavid v Goliathâ€, this is by no means done so to the detriment of Hull KR, finals have a habit of levelling the playing field somewhat, and David could indeed slay Goliath, however there is a huge gulf in both the players, current and season form which is hard to ignore.
Firstly, letâ€™s take Leeds. I myself Iâ€™m a season ticket holder at Headingley, yet I like to think that Iâ€™m open minded to the game, opposition and can be imparshall when required. Leeds, even by their own have standards are having a Steller season. They sit top of Super League, winning 19 of 26, with a win ratio of 73%, they are ranked No 1 offensively, scoring a massive 868 points (Average 33 pts per game), thatâ€™s 203 points more than Wigan who sit 2nd. Defensively they Rank 4th, shipping 527 Points (Average 20 Pts per game). There Super league record as a whole is exemplary, 6 time Grand Final winners in the last 11 years. However, if you wanted to pick holes, last year was there first Challenge Cup win since 1999, and since 1979, they have appeared in 10 finals, winning only 2.
Enough of stats, letâ€™s look at the players on show. Leeds have the best set of backs in Rugby League by far, they have a blend of youth, experience and proven winners. There are points from all over the park. Man for Man, they are the superior force in Rugby League. My first tip, is 1st Try scorer. This market is clearly subjective, and there is no proven science. Iâ€™m going for Tom Briscoe, 9/1 with Ladbrokes. He opened the scoring in last yearâ€™s final, and is aided by who I believe is one of the best centres in world rugby at present, Callum Watkins. Having watched Leeds, there is a real tendency to focus on the right side of the pitch in the early encounters and attacks, maybe as the opposition are preoccupied in handling the Leeds No 5, Ryan Hall, a real man mountain and explosive winger who operated on the left. This emphasis often leaves gaps and holes on the opposite site of the pitch. I also, wouldnâ€™t rule out Briscoe scoring 2 tries or more, 5/1 at Ladbrokes.
Looking at Hull KR, they are and have been for a number years, been a middle of the road team. This season they have been disappointing. In the regular season they finished 10th, winning 9 of 23, win ratio of 40%. They failed to make the Super 8â€™s, yet are 3/3 in the qualifiers, against the lower ranked teams. Offensively they were ranked 8th, defensively ranked 11th, so they were the 2nd worst team in Super league.
So we have the No 1 ranked attacking team v the 2nd worst defensive team.
Current form is encouraging for both, in the new format, both have played 3 and won 3, albeit against different teams. Leeds rested 4 players and won away at Hull on Friday (8 days rest), Hull KR rested 8 players, and won very well in terrible conditions at Widnes, which is not an easy place to go ( 6 days rest).
I see no other result other than a Leeds win, the handicap is 14, I expect them to win and cover at 10/11. The 2 teams have met twice this season, Leeds wining both, by 10 pts away, and 20 pts at home.
Early team news suggests Leeds are at full strength, having lost Aiton and Buchanan in previous weeks for the season. Hull KR are struggling with Kelly, who has had a standout season, but has been injured since the semi-final win over Warrington.
My last tip is Man of the Match, the Lance Todd trophy. My selection is Danny Maguire, the Leeds influential half back, 14â€™s at Skybet. In my mind, he was desperately unlucky not to win it Last year. He is having to show some real leadership qualities this season, maybe this is intentional with him taking on more of the workload with Sinfieldâ€™s imminent departure. Whatever the reason, he is playing top draw rugby at the minute, he can run the game from midfield, he can orchestrate big points, or play ugly and kill the game when needed. The actual market is lob sided, Sinfield and Peacock are showing as favourites, mainly due to this been there last Wembley appearances prior to retirement, a sentimental vote expected. Skybet go standout 14â€™s, all the rest, at the minute, go single figure prices, I think Skybet have priced this wrong.
Good luck guys and gals, enjoy the game, and feel for me if Leeds are beaten, itâ€™s a long way home if you donâ€™t win!
1st Try scorer â€“ Briscoe @ 9â€™s (Ladbrokes)
To score 2 or more tries â€“ Briscoe @ 5â€™s (Ladbrokes)
Leeds â€“ 14 @10/11 (General)
Man Of the Match â€“ Maguire (Leeds) @ 14â€™s (Skybet)
3 posts • Page 1 of 1
Who is online
Users browsing this forum: No registered users