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Craig Porter 28th Feb 2009 - 15:20

Leeds face the manliest of challenges

The Carnegie World Club Challenge sees the Super League Champions, Leeds Rhinos, take on Manly Sea Eagles, the Australian Grand Final winners live on Sunday night.

England, quite frankly, embarrassed themselves in the World Cup last November fuelling the opinion that the Australian game is streets ahead of the domestic game in Britain. The Rhinos have a chance to put that straight and be crowned back-to-back World Champions.

It was always going to be a close game. Earlier in the week the bookmakers couldn't split the sides but a continuous one-sided stream of betting now has Manly the small favourites giving up a two-point start on the main handicap.

That shouldn't phase the Leeds side though who, after years of being considered "bottlers" on the big stage, have shown they know how to approach the biggest of games. Underdogs going into last year's Grand Final against St Helens they quite simply played the perfect game on the day and came out Champions.

They can do this again but it won't be easy. There is 6/4 available about there being a successful drop goal scored in the match and that could well be all there is in it.

It's over twenty years ago since Manly turned up at Central Park to face Wigan in this same event. Wigan won a hard-fought game 8-2 to become World Champions and not one try was scored. Leeds have only conceded two tries in three games this season and you can take 8/1 that they only let one in again on Sunday night.

If the Rhinos maintain their solid defence they will win this game. Their quick breaks and great support play from the likes of Danny Maguire and Rob Burrow, who is a tantalising 16/1 to score the first try, mean they can literally score from anywhere on the park and out of nothing.

But it will be a defensive battle first and foremost. Tactical like a game of chess, the chance of putting two points on the board if in range early on will be eagerly taken. For that reason the 5/1 about the first scoring play being a Leeds Goal and the same for a Manly Goal to be the first points scored seem too big.

And who could resist a small wager at 100/1 that there will be no try scored in this battle of the champions?

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