SL Preview: Widnes v Leeds (Sun)

Widnes take on Leeds this Sunday at The Select Security Stadium in what will be a tough test for the Vikings.

The two teams last met a fortnight ago at Headingley, where the Rhinos came out on top 38-28, and despite winning away at Bradford Bulls in their last outing, Widnes coach Betts is first to admit the size of the task ahead for his charges.

He said, “Even though we haven’t always got the results we’ve wanted, I’ve been really impressed with our ability to stay in the fight over the last few weeks.

“To come back from 12 points down, the way we did against Bradford shows the character we have in the side, and our ability to win difficult games.

“Leeds will come here on Sunday with the best side they can field with some internationals in their team that can win games in the blink of an eye, and it will be a very, very tough game!”

The Rhinos have been given a welcome boost ahead of Sunday with the return from injury of England centre Kallum Watkins.

Watkins had initially been ruled out for eight weeks after suffering an ankle injury against Hull FC, however he returns ahead of schedule for Sunday’s clash.

Exiles centre Joel Moon is also back after serving a one game suspension last week for the defeat at Huddersfield.

The Yorkshire side are still without Kylie Leuluai, Jamie Jones-Buchanan, Stevie Ward, Joe Vickery, Brett Delaney, Ryan Bailey, Liam Hood, Danny McGuire and Kevin Sinfield.

Jones-Buchanan was the latest player to join the casualty list last Sunday and that could mean that 19-year-old forward Alex Foster could become the latest young Rhino to make his debut this week.

Widnes 19-man squad: Ah Van, Allen, Brown, Clarke, Craven, Gerrard, Hanbury, Hock, Isa, Joseph, Kavanagh, Leuluai, Marsh, Mellor, O’Carroll, Owens, Phelps, Pickersgill, Winterstein.

Leeds 19-man squad: Hardaker, Jones-Bishop, Watkins, Moon, Hall, Burrow, McShane, Peacock, Ablett, Kirke, Clarkson, Achurch, Moore, Keinhorst, Singleton, Sutcliffe, Minns, Baldwinson, Foster.

Prediction: A shock victory for the underrated Vikings.

Stats:

Leeds have won their last seven meetings (three away fixtures) with Widnes, with the Vikings’ last victory coming 29-14 at home on 28 June, 2003.

Super League summary:

Widnes won 3

Leeds won 8

0 draws

Widnes highest score: 34-28 (H, 2002) (Widest margin: 29-14, H, 2003)

Leeds highest score: 68-24 (H, 2012) (Widest margin: 66-8, H, 2005)

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