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Dismissed Rhinosc an keepW igan withins ight.

LEEDSvW IGAN BBC2,5 .30pm JUST 43 days ago Wigan took Leeds to the cleaners at Headingley Carnegie, writes Rod Studd.

Despite being without several key forwards, the Warriors romped to a 50-8 success and anyone who witnessed that thrashing will be sorely tempted to back Shaun Wane's men to cover today's ten-point handicap in the Challenge Cup semi-final.

But enough has changed in the ensuing six weeks to suggest that punters should swim against the tide.

Wigan have lost scrum-half Thomas Leuluai to injury and his absence could be crucial. The Kiwi is not only vital in organising the Warriors attack, he's arguably the best defensive half-back in Super League. Wigan have signed Matty Smith from Salford as a replacement but he is cup-tied for this game.

Leeds seem to have come out of their mid-season slump having won four straight matches. Although they haven't beaten any of the big boys in that run, there were signs in the victory over Hull that the Rhinos were ready for a big test in a knockout game.

In recent seasons, Leeds have been the masters of suddendeath matches. They've made an art form out of winning them despite some sketchy regularseason form.

Last year they won just 15 of 27 league games but in knockout ties the Rhinos won eight out of nine. The only loss was a 28-18 defeat to Wigan at Wembley but even the most ardent Warriors fan would concede that their side had the rub of the green that day.

There's no question that Wigan are favourites to reach the final again but it's questionable whether BetVictor and Ladbrokes are right to dismiss a team with the Rhinos' pedigree as 3-1 shots and hand them a 12-point start on the handicap.

It shouldn't be forgotten that that Leeds started favourites for the last meeting.

Across the Channel, Catalan and Hull meet in a rearranged Super League fixture which was postponed in February.

The Dragons are overwhelming favourites but they are backing up after a brutal Monday night battle at Warrington. Trent Robinson is without suspended enforcer David Ferriol and even though Hull are badly hit by injuries, they are worth supporting with an 18-point start. Peter Gentle's team refused to roll over at Leeds and a similar level of commitment may be enough to keep them within three converted tries.

Recommendations Leeds +12 4pts Evs BetVictor Hull +18 2pts Evs BetVictor HANDICAP BETTING start given (+) by Wigan BET365 BETFRED BETVICTOR BLUE SQ BOYLES CORAL HILLS LADS POWER Handicap -10 -10 -12 -10 -10 -10 -10 -12 -10 Leeds 11-10 Evs Evs 10-11 10-11 10-11 10-11 10-11 10-11 Wigan 10-11 4-5 Evs 10-11 10-11 10-11 10-11 11-10 10-11 Tie 161616161616201616

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Leeds' Ian Kirke is tackled by London Broncos last month
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Jul 14, 2012
Words:464
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