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Official English Super League Round 20 previews - Saturday games. London v Leeds and Wigan v Warrington.
Diskin set for Rhinos return
Leeds and London fans will get an early taste of things to come on Saturday as the engage Super League arrives in Perpignan.
The south-western city in France?s rugby heartland will become a regular Super League host next season when Les Catalans enter the competition.
But with the Broncos forced to play games away from their Griffin Park base as landlords Brentford undertake pitch maintenance, the club have chosen to take a game there a year early.
?On the road? games were a common feature for all clubs in the early Super League years but in recent times only London have kept faith in the project.
The Broncos have taken games to Edinburgh, Leicester, Carcassonne, Newport and Aberavon in the last few years and played in Bridgend last week.
Coach Tony Rea believes Perpignan is an excellent location for Super League and is looking forward to a good game as the Broncos tackle Leeds for the second time in a fortnight.
Rea said: ?We have been over here before and we are very familiar with the surroundings.
?We know the pitch and the conditions and are looking forward to the game. It?s a great stadium and should be a good atmosphere. We like it and it?s good to be here.?
The Broncos pushed the Rhinos hard in the Powergen Challenge Cup at Headingley in their last meeting but missed out on a semi-final place as they went down 32-12.
Rea added: ?We were disappointed with the way we fell away in the late part of that game.
?We let ourselves down at the back end, but we have been showing good spirit and are confident.
?The expectation is there and there is no reason why we can?t beat them. There is a lot of quality in the team and that quality will rise to the surface.
?We are looking to get better and we are playing better each week.?
They will come up against a Leeds side lacking skipper Kevin Sinfield but boasting hooker Matt Diskin on his long-awaited return from injury.
Diskin, 23, outstanding in the champions? title success last season, has not played since rupturing knee ligaments on his Great Britain debut last November but has been told by coach Tony Smith he will feature.
Sinfield is out for five weeks after undergoing surgery to repair a broken thumb.
Smith said: ?We will definitely give Matt some game time although we have not decided whether he will start or come off the bench.
?Kevin?s absence gives other players the opportunity to lead the side, our captain has been outstanding this year but such is the determination within the squad that they will be keen to produce the right level of performance in his absence.
?We have had some really tough games with London already this season, including a fortnight ago in the cup.
?They are strong on defence and have plenty of attacking options if you give them the opportunity.
?Both games at Headingley this year have been close for the first 50 minutes before we have managed to pull away in the end but we know each other pretty well now so we know we will have to play for the full 80 minutes.?
The game will be preceded by a minute?s silence for the victims of the London terrorist attacks, as will all engage Super League fixtures this weekend.
London Broncos v Leeds Rhinos, Perpignan, Saturday July 9 2005
London 18-man squad: Armour, Bradley-Qalilawa, Dorn, Haumono, Highton, Hopkins, Kirkpatrick, Leuluai, Lolohea, Mateo, McLinden, Mbu, O'Halloran, Purdham, Smith, Sykes, Tookey, Trindall.
Leeds 18-man squad: Mathers, Calderwood, Walker, Senior, Bai, McGuire, Burrow, Bailey, Diskin, McDermott, Lauitiiti, McKenna, Dunemann, Ward, Poching, Jones-Buchanan, Ellis, Scruton.
Referee: A Klein
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Wolves expect tough challenge
Warrington Wolves travel to face old adversaries Wigan Warriors at the JJB Stadium in the unfamiliar role of favourites.
The Wolves are flying high after winning their last seven games and 11 of their last 12.
Wigan by contrast are still smarting from record 70 and 75-point hammerings by Leeds and St Helens respectively last month, although they restored some stability with an eight-point win over Leigh a week ago.
Wolves coach Paul Cullen said: ?They have played away from the JJB for three consecutive games, Leeds, St Helens and Leigh and will not want to disappoint their home supporters any more than they already have.
?We are fully aware of the very proud record that they have in Wigan and realise that they will enhance their efforts not to lose this one.
?We are expecting a very committed and aggressive performance from their pack to allow their halves the time and space to show their undoubted talents.?
Wigan Warriors v Warrington Wolves, JJB Stadium, Saturday July 9 2005
Wigan 18-man squad: Gleeson, Dallas, Aspinwall, Vaealiki, Colbon, Orr, Moran, Seu Seu, Newton, Hargreaves, Wild, Hansen, Botham, Allen, Godwin, Tickle, Guisset, Melling.
Warrington 18-man squad: Grose, Fa'afili, M. Gleeson, Kohe-Love, Gaskell, N. Wood, Leikvoll, Clarke, Swann, Wainwright, Noone, M. Gleeson, Westwood, P. Wood, Lima, Appo, Pickersgill, Bridge.
Referee: R Silverwood
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Thanks to www.superleague.co.uk for these great articles.