Two of the biggest names in Super League continue to be huge underachievers in 2023 and it is now or never with just six rounds remaining of the regular season.
Defeat at Headingley on Sunday would all but end Leeds’ hopes of a playoff place as the Rhinos sit four points adrift of the top six in ninth place. However, it doesn’t look good after a run of three straight defeats.
Warrington, long-time leaders of the competition this season, are in an even bigger slump having lost their last seven in all competitions.
Daryl Powell has been sacked by the Wolves and Gary Chambers has been asked to pick up the pieces for the remainder of the campaign.
The Rhinos welcome back Harry Newman after a 12 week lay off due to a hamstring injury whilst winger David Fusitu’a is also cleared to return following concussion. Justin Sangare has been ruled out for the season with a foot injury, while full back Richie Myler is recovering from an ankle injury with Morgan Gannon and Zane Tetevano also still unavailable.
Matty Ashton returns for Warrington after missing the game against Catalans last time out with a minor shoulder injury. James Harrison is also back after missing the last few weeks with a finger injury.
Leeds Rhinos to win by one to 12 points @ 2/1
A nervy encounter can be expected at Headingley with confidence low in both camps.
Warrington’s slump has been horrific and it is remarkable given the amount of talent in their expensively-assembled squad.
Year after year they come up short in the league and it is looking like another case of what might have been for the Wire.
There is a glimmer of hope in that Warrington have won on two of their last three visits to Leeds but it is hard to back them with any great faith to improve that sequence.
Instead it may pay to back the home side edging a close encounter with the support of their own fans pushing them on.
Leeds’ last four league matches have been settled by seven, four, one and two points and a home win by no more than 12 points looks the best bet given the nature of the game and the brittle mindset of both sets of players.
Jarrod O’Connor to score a try @ 11/2
One man who may start the match in a better frame of mind is Leeds hooker Jarrod O’Connor.
The lively back-rower has been turning his hand at hooker recently and it has paid off with two tries in his last three outings.
This looks set to be a tight, nervy contest but his ability to spot a gap could be crucial and looks a cracking price to get over the whitewash once again at Headingley.