St Helens boss wary of a Leeds Rhinos side on the rise

Justin Holbrook
Justin Holbrook

Saints and Leeds Rhinos - the two most successful clubs in the Super League era - come face-to-face in a Battle of the Roses at the Totally Wicked Stadium on Friday night and could be a classic if it scales the same heights as their previous meeting at Headingley in June last year.

On that occasion a dramatic and nerve-tingling finale in front of a 12,000 fans ended with St Helens scrum half Danny Richardson landing a last-gasp field goal to give the table-toppers a 23-22 victory, exacting revenge after they had lost 28-20 to the Loiners at home in mid-March.

Saints, Super League winners on six occasions, and Leeds, champions eight times, both have a reputation for playing attractive attacking rugby, reflected by the number of high-scoring fixtures in the past..

And St Helens coach Justin Holbrook is wary of a Leeds team on the rise as they look to make it three wins out of three at the start of the Betfred Super League season.

The new-look Rhinos, who are playing their first four fixtures away from home to allow re-development work to continue at Headingley, picked up their first win under coach Dave Furner at the third attempt at Salford last Sunday.

"The Rhinos will come with confidence after that win," Holbrook said.

"They had a bit of a slow start but that's to be expected when you have a new coach and new players. They will, of course, get better over time as their new guys gel together.

"They have recruited well from the NRL, with Trent Merrin and Konrad Hurrell, to add to some of the dangerous guys they already have in their team like Jack Walker.

"I am happy how we have started the season and we want to continue that this week against a tough opponent, who generally plays well at our stadium.

"We will need to be on our game as always against them to get the two points."

Holbrook's side have had a short break due to the World Club Challenge between Wigan Warriors and the Sydney Roosters,unlike Leeds who slotted in a fixture against Salford Red Devils last weekend.

Who will be the beneficiary is hard to say but Leeds will be boosted by their first win of the campaign at the AJ Bell Stadium, while unbeaten Saints will be itching to get back to competitive action and are likely to come flying out of the blocks