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Friday Night's ESL Preview
Friday night's game between top of the table Leeds Rhino's and Bradford looks set to be the match of the round, if not the match of the season. Officials at the Bulls home ground of Odsal Stadium have done their homework and exstended the seating in anticipation of a huge crowd to witness this West Yorkshire derby.
Bradford are in devastating form, having won their last 12 games in Super League and the Challenge Cup, including last Sunday's 52-6 romp at Huddersfield, and with a defeat of Leeds they can take top spot on points difference .
Leeds, though, are looking to lift their game after two draws and two wins from their four matches. A win would put them outright first on the table and despite Bradford being 1 game behind, the situation would become undeniably safer for Leeds.
Leeds welcome back Chev Walker from a shoulder injury to give them a fully fit squad, while Matt Adamson could force a return to the starting line-up for the first time since his comeback from a fractured cheekbone.
The Bulls look very strong and agile after wing pair Tevita Vaikona and Lesley Vainikolo, scrum half Paul Deacon and prop Rob Parker recovered from injuries suffered last week at Huddersfield.
James Lowes replaces Aaron Smith at hooker after being rested last week, former Rhino - Karl Pratt - is expected to continue at stand off in Leon Pryce's absence through suspension. Sixth placed Wigan Warriors take on bottom placed Halifax at The JJB Stadium on Friday night. Despite a close call against Warrington last week , the Warriors should account for Halifax in a doddle. Last weeks return of captain Andy Farrell certainly helped lift the Warriors as well as showing some much needed direction on field.
Danny Sculthorpe is replaced by Bibey in the front row, the promising young prop being ruled out to rest a few serious knocks and sprains suffered in the previous weeks.Kevin Brown moves onto the bench.
Halifax Coach, Tony Anderson, felt that his side turned the corner with their impressive display at Wakefield last week, despite their losing run being stretched to nine games.
Halifax will hope that Chris Birchall can last longer than his appearance in the 22-18 defeat at Wakefield last week, when he was knocked out after three minutes and played no further part.
Daryl Cardiss should be back from an ankle injury, but Shayne McMenemy is again expected to be sidelined with a back problem.