Leeds travel to Salford on Saturday evening searching for just their third win of the season and their first since round 6. It will be a tough game for a team so out of form and ravaged by injuries, but with just 13 regular season games remaining after this one, the Rhinos simply have to start winning soon.
This is almost a must win game for Leeds, with a loss meaning they would fall further behind those above them. Leeds could be anywhere from 2 points to 6 points behind the team in 8th position come the end of the round, with the results of the Wakefield v Wigan and Widnes v Castleford games on Sunday effecting the points gap between Leeds and 8th place. In an ideal world, Leeds will be hoping for wins for themselves, Wigan and Widnes, as this would see them leapfrog Hull KR into 10th place and sit just 2 points behind Wakefield in 9th and Salford in 8th. A Castleford loss against Widnes would also mean just a 3-point gap between 10th and 7th, giving Leeds a much better chance of climbing up the table in the coming weeks.
A good sign going into the game for Leeds is their record when visiting Salford over the years. Leeds have not lost away to the Red Devils since 1993 and will be hoping to continue this run with the hope of scoring some valuable competition points and giving themselves a huge boost of confidence. Now would be a very good time for the Rhinos to pick up their first away win of the season, with some big away games against St. Helens and Huddersfield on the horizon.
The injury list has grown again this week, with Joel Moon, Jimmy Keinhorst, Josh Walters and Brett Ferres all being ruled out with knocks, some more serious than others. There are also unconfirmed reports that Adam Cuthbertson and Brett Delaney will be missing out on the game at the AJ Bell, if true leaving Leeds with a very skinny looking squad to choose from. Some good news, though, is the return of exciting youngster Ashton Golding, who has not been available since the round 2 fixture at Widnes. Other players returning to the side are Jordan Lilley and Jordan Baldwinson, who both turned out for Featherstone Rovers in the Championship last week.
The initial Rhinos 19-man squad for the game, released on Thursday but may be subject to change, is:
Zak Hardaker, Kallum Watkins, Danny McGuire, Rob Burrow, Keith Galloway, Beau Falloon, Adam Cuthbertson, Jamie Jones-Buchanan, Carl Ablett, Liam Sutcliffe, Brett Delaney, Brad Singleton, Mitch Garbutt, Mitch Achurch, Anthony Mullally, Ash Handley, Ashton Golding, Jordan Baldwinson, Jordan Lilley.