Leigh Leopards vs Leeds Rhinos Predictions: Hardaker to haunt former club

 | March 07 | 

3 mins read

George Riley Rugby League

Leigh Leopards bid to make it third time lucky at the start of a difficult Betfred Super League season for them against a Leeds Rhinos side buzzing after a huge win last week.

The Rhinos stunned Catalans at Headingley, with boss Rohan Smith praising the bravery of his side in toppling a huge Dragons pack. Leigh were narrowly undone in a feisty encounter with St Helens which leaves the Betfred Challenge Cup winners still looking for their first victory of the year. They could get it, though, if our Leigh Leopards vs Leeds Rhinos predictions are right...

Leigh Leopards v Leeds Rhinos Tips

  • Leigh Leopards to win by 1-12 points @ 11/5
  • Zak Hardaker anytime tryscorer @ 9/4

Team news

Leeds received a major boost this week with England international prop Mikolaj Oledzki back in the mix after missing the last two games with a shoulder injury.

Winger Derrell Olpherts is also available after a hip injury, while half-back Jack Sinfield, young full-back Alfie Edgell and prop Tom Nicholson-Watton all keep their places in the squad.

Forward James Bentley will serve a one-match ban for a striking charge during the Dragons win – his sixth such suspension since he was sent off on his Leeds debut two years ago. French international prop Justin Sangare was cleared though, and is available to play despite his sin-binning for a head contact.

Leigh are without key forward John Asiata, who avoided suspension this week in his disciplinary but picked up an injury during that fiery Saints game last week. Asiata is out with a calf problem, as is veteran winger Tom Briscoe who also limped off last week.

Leigh Leopards to win by 1-12 points @ 11/5

Having been embarrassed by Leeds in backing the Dragons to win at Headingley last week, it might feel foolish to go against the Rhinos again, especially without key Leigh men Asiata and Briscoe.

But the Leopards are too good a side to stay winless, and as good as Leeds have been in their two wins at home they go into this game still looking for their first away win having come undone at Hull KR in round two. I expect this to be one heck of a contest and the raucous Leigh crowd can play a big part. Leigh, remember, beat Leeds both home and away last season and their 11/5 odds to win by 1-12 points imply a 31.2% chance of such a result.

The Rhinos have the momentum, squad depth and favouritism here, but if Leigh can get on the front foot and give Lachlan Lam quality ball then the home side can spring an upset.

Leigh Leopards to beat Leeds Rhinos by 1-12 points @ 11/5

Zak Hardaker anytime tryscorer @ 9/4

If Leigh do pull off a big win here, then you can be pretty certain that controversial former Leeds man Zak Hardaker will be at the heart of it.

Hardaker scored Leigh’s only try in defeat at St Helens last week and the 2015 Steve Prescott Man of Steel remains a constant threat, needing three tries to hit 150 for his career.

With in-form wingers Josh Charnley and Ash Handley both odds-on to score further tries here, shrewd backers may be looking further down the betting at the value offered by Harry Newman and Hardaker. And knowing how much the latter loves playing against his former clubs, I’m backing Hardaker to come up trumps this week.

Zak Hardaker anytime tryscorer v Leeds @ 9/4

You can read all our latest Super League Tips at our dedicated Betfred Insights rugby league content hub.

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