Reluctant Rhinos may not charge past promising Hull
Airlie Birds appeal with a decent start on the handicap
Sky Arena, 7.45pm Thursday
For over a decade there has been a simple and profitable formula for punters betting on Leeds versus Hull – back the Rhinos.
Last September's 18-16 playoff semi-final success was the 13th consecutive time Leeds have beaten the Black & Whites at Headingley.
Hull's last triumph on Rhinos soil was in 2007 when current coach Lee Radford was playing.
However, all good things come to an end and there are signs that Hull are ready to break their Headingley hoodoo.
On three of their last four trips the Airlie Birds have been beaten by three points or fewer. And last July they proved they are more than capable of stopping the Rhinos' charge by comprehensively beating tonight's opponents in the Challenge Cup semi-final in Doncaster.
Hull are 15-8 to repeat that success and make some appeal with a 6.5-point start at 5-6.
Neither team have performed consistently this season.
The Rhinos produced a solid opening-night win at Warrington but have since triumphed with a scratchy display against struggling Hull KR and lost to Melbourne in the World Club Challenge and to Widnes.
They were left kicking their heels last weekend when their home match against Catalans was called off due to the weather.
Hull have played well in patches in all four of their matches but have managed to win only twice – against Huddersfield and last week against Warrington.
Lee Radford will be without prop Liam Watts, who is suspended after being sent off in that victory. Albert Kelly, Danny Houghton, Mickey Paea, Josh Bowden and Bureta Faraimo are all sidelined too.
Leeds boss Brian McDermott has injury problems as well with Liam Sutcliffe, Adam Cuthbertson, Stevie Ward, Jimmy Keinhorst, Brett Ferres and Nathaniel Peteru all absent.
This looks a much closer contest to call than the odds imply with the teams sitting side by side in the league table. Last season they finished second and third in the standings and the visitors look a decent bet with a handy handicap start.
BoyleSports' 10-1 that the underdogs open the scoring with a penalty looks good value. Paddy Power and Betfair originally quoted 19-1 before cutting their offer to 17-2.
With the lethal boot of Marc Sneyd among their weapons, Hull often take the opportunity to post early points, just as they did against Warrington a week ago.
3pts 5-6 Coral, Ladbrokes
Hull penalty first scoring play
1pt 10-1 BoyleSports
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