Current Super League champions Leeds Rhinos have struggled to find the same form that saw them marked as the most successful rugby league club is Super League history last term.
Currently sitting fourth in the table with only a handful of fixtures to play, the Rhinos find themselves eight points behind leaders Wigan as this year’s season runs into its final sprint for points.
But the Yorkshire club have hit form at the right time of the season, recently clocking a 68-24 victory over the Widnes Vikings, meaning that a result against the Catalan Dragons would secure their place in the Play-offs.
But an injury to Danny McGuire against the Vikings has head coach Brian McDermott fearing the scrumhalf could miss the Carnegie Challenge Cup final against high flying Warrington at Wembley on the 25th of August.
“It could be just a bang or it could be a big one – a twist and maybe ligament damage, so it is concerning,” McDermott told the BBC.
“My heart goes out to him if it is ligaments, but we hope it is just sore.
“We will leave it until the 11th hour because of what he means to us. We got a few bumps and bruises out there. “
Leeds reached the final of the Challenge Cup with an enthralling victory against rivals Wigan, booking their third successive appearance in the final with a 39-28 triumph.
Braces from Hall, Hardaker, Jones Bishop and a further try from Bailey were enough to mark revenge against the team that took the spoils in last year’s showpiece clash.
The Rhinos will be hoping to break something of a jinx which has seen them without a trophy in the tournament since 1999, despite their frequent appearances in the final.
Post game, McDermott told the BBC: “Wigan were white hot the last time we played and I don’t think they were far off today.
“They kept coming at us and, if our pack hadn’t been as tough as they were, we wouldn’t have got the job done.
“I also thought Danny McGuire was outstanding. They came at him but he was sensational defensively and kept probing away.”
Wigan head coach Shaun Wane said: “We didn’t turn up today. We’ve defended all year better than that. But take nothing away from Leeds. They wanted it more which to me is gutting. They’ve some real warriors in their team.”
And despite their lacking league form, Leeds have already made history this year by becoming the first Super League side to win the World Club Cup since they themselves won the title in 2008, claiming a 14 point victory over the NRL champions Manly Sea Eagles.
Tries from Watkins, Jones-Bishop, Ablett and a double from Hall ensured the Rhinos secured their third trophy in the competition since 2005.
“We did it the tough way and I don’t think we’d want it any other way. It was an old-fashioned game of rugby league.” McDermott told the BBC website, www.BBC.co.uk.
“We looked scruffy at times but we were brave and courageous. There was a period in the second half when we were gone.
“I wouldn’t say we were at our most vintage offensively, but you deserve to win World Club Challenges when you defend like that. It came down to how much the fellas were prepared to bend their backs.”
And with a place in the Play-offs all but secured, a showpiece final at Wembley later this month whilst having already won the World Club Cup, Leeds look set to once again prove their dominance of the Rugby League game in this country, if not the world.