Buderus can calm Smith's Storm
Leeds Rhinos take on Melbourne Storm at Elland Road in the World Club Challenge for the second time in two years but another old rugby league rivalry, that between Australia's two best hookers, Danny Buderus and Cameron Smith, is also rekindled.
The Super League Grand Final winners take on their NRL counterparts and are good value at 21/20 in the 80 minute betting to repeat their victory from two seasons ago and regain the World Champion crown that they relinquished to the Manly Sea Eagles in last year's clash. The compilers make the Australians their 3/4 favourites to win in 80 minutes and give them a two-point handicap over the local side.
Leeds aren't playing at their Headingley homeground but the four-mile trip across the city is nothing compared to Melbourne's trip. Almost the entire crowd will be backing the Brits and not playing on the quagmire that the Headingley pitch currently resembles should help the Rhinos create some of their flowing and fast-paced breaks that they have been prevented from so far this season.
Less said about Leeds' Super League season so far the better. Just two wins from four games, and those against winless Salford and Super League "new" boys Crusaders RL is hardly World Champion form but, regardless of what anyone says, they'll have had this game on their minds for months. This is the game they've been waiting for and will be fired up to win - but they won't win by much.
The two-point headstart they receive is backable, in fact, taking the handicap tie, i.e. Leeds to win by exactly 2 at 14/1 is very possible but I think I'll settle for the 5/1 that the Rhinos win by 1-5 points in case Kevin Sinfield repeats his drop-goal effort of two years ago.
Danny Buderus will be key for Leeds now he has finally got a few games under his belt and the 25/1 for him to score the first try (same for last) can't be sniffed at.
While the hooker won't be going directly head-to-head with his old adversary Cameron Smith, as it is expected Smith will move to half-back to cover the missing Cooper Cronk, the years of experience playing against him and the Melbourne Storm side will be what keeps the Rhinos in the game. Buderus is behind in the victory count in these encounters and will be determined to come out on top in what is surely going to be last between these two great Australian number nines.
There is 10/11 available for Leeds to score the first try of the game and I see them starting the brighter, spurred on by the crowd and by having had more match practice. Melbourne will take a little longer to settle into the encounter and if you do think they'll go on to win then I'd point you in the direction of Leeds to be winning at half-time and Melbourne to win the game at 11/2.