Widnes welcome Leeds to the Select Security Stadium on Sunday afternoon as they look to record a fourth straight home win over the Rhinos, a winning run stretching back to 2015.
The Vikings beat the Rhinos 38-24 that year, before breezing past a poor Leeds side in 2016 with a 56-12 success and then causing an upset last season with a 28-20 win while Dennis Betts’ side sat rock bottom of the league.
Widnes will be hoping to extend that record with another home win over the West Yorkshire side in this campaign as they look to return to winning ways after their disappointing derby defeat to Warrington last Friday.
Champions Leeds are also coming into this game on the back of a loss after they were beaten convincingly by NRL Premiers Melbourne Storm in the World Club Challenge, but have won both of their league games so far this season. Ending their Select Security Stadium ‘hoodoo’ will serve as extra motivation for the Rhinos to claim the two points.
Despite being downed by the Wolves, the Vikings sit fifth on the table thanks to their big opening round win over Catalans, although have played a game more than the teams around them. Leeds are just one place ahead in fourth, so will want to win to make sure they stay in front of Sunday’s opponents and keep pace with the likes of St. Helens and Wigan, who have made fast starts to the season.
In team news, Widnes will be without Chris Houston as he starts his 2-game ban for ‘reckless physical contact with a match official’ after he collided with Phil Bentham during the match with Warrington last Friday. Greg Burke, Olly Ashall-Bott and Brad Walker also drop out of the 19, and are replaced by Ed Chamberlain, Ted Chapelow, Wellington Albert and Stanton Albert. Centre Charly Runciman remains absent, as do Patrick Ah Van, Gil Dudson, Lloyd White and Alex Gerrard.
Leeds will be forced into making a number of changes from their clash with Melbourne after Adam Cuthbertson, Stevie Ward and Jack Walker all picked up injuries that will see them sidelined for several weeks. The Rhinos will also be missing Anthony Mullally (finger), Brett Ferres (knee), Keith Galloway (Achilles), and Nathaniel Peteru (bicep), while props Mitch Garbutt and Mikolaj Oledzki, who have been included in the squad, will have to prove their fitness if they are to take part.
The 19-man squads in full are:
Widnes Vikings- Rhys Hanbury, Stefan Marsh, Krisnan Inu, Joe Mellor, Tom Gilmore, Matt Whitley, Hep Cahill, Chris Dean, Danny Craven, Tom Olbison, Sam Wilde, MacGraff Leuluai, Danny Walker, Ed Chamberlain, Jay Chapelow, Ted Chapelow, Aaron Heremaia, Wellington Albert, Stanton Albert.
Leeds Rhinos- Ashton Golding, Tom Briscoe, Kallum Watkins, Liam Sutcliffe, Ryan Hall, Joel Moon, Richie Myler, Matt Parcell, Brad Singleton, Jamie Jones-Buchanan, Carl Ablett, Brad Dwyer, Brett Delaney, Mitch Garbutt, Jimmy Keinhorst, Ash Handley, Jack Ormondroyd, Mikolaj Oledzki, Josh Walters.
Date: 25th February 2018.
Venue: Select Security Stadium.
Referee: Robert Hicks.