St Helens coach Kristian Woolf says his side are expecting a difficult encounter when they host Leeds Rhinos in the Betfred Super League on Thursday evening (St Helens 2/9, Leeds 7/2, Tie 20/1 – Match Result).
The Rhinos are still outside the playoff places at present, as they occupy eighth position, but Rohan Smith’s side have shown signs of improvement of late.
Leeds have won four of their last six matches in the Betfred Super League to give themselves a glimmer of hope of finishing in the playoffs.
While the Rhinos have struggled for large parts of the campaign, St Helens have won 13 of their 15 games to sit four points clear at the top of the table.
Woolf will be without James Bell and Sione Mata’utia due to suspension this week, but he says the Saints (EVS – Grand Final Outright) are ready to keep Leeds at bay.
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He told the St Helens Star: “It is not quite the close rivalry of a Wigan or Warrington, but there’s a strong history there, particularly with Grand Finals and us not being on the winning side for those. When you have that, with two big clubs and proud clubs, you will have an intense rivalry.
“We know Leeds will come and see this as a game that they can make a bit of a statement in. We are going to go into it excited about the contest.”
Smith added: “We view Leeds as a side that should be in the top six – they have that sort of quality and can play at that sort of standard. We know we are going to have to be at our best, and if we are, then we are going to be hard to beat.
“We are not looking past this week as we know it is going to be a real challenge, but once we get through that, we have other games that will excite us.”
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