Warrington may have had the edge over Leeds in the Challenge Cup in recent seasons, beating the Rhinos twice at Wembley, but their play-off record has been inexplicably poor in comparison. Leeds on the other hand continuously exceed expectations when it comes to the play-offs.
Having finished only fifth in the regular season last year, Brian McDermott's men were as big as 26.025/1 to go onto Grand Final success, and this year, after again finishing fifth, they were still double figure prices to gain a record sixth Old Trafford win.
Leeds have been there, done that, and got numerous t-shirts. In contrast, Wire are experiencing this for the first time. They don't have the benefit of knowing what to expect in the build-up, less of an idea of how to prepare, and they don't have the experience of knowing what it takes to win on Super League's biggest stage.
A Leeds side missing Danny McGuire came unstuck against Warrington in the Challenge Cup final in August, eventually beaten 35-18 by Tony Smith's men, but that score line flattered the Wolves. The video ref's decision to disallow Kylie Leuluai's try tilted the balance in Warrington's favour and, without their key playmaker, Leeds were unable to find a way back in to the game.
Jamie Peacock's display at Wembley has to go down as one of the greatest seen in a Challenge Cup Final, that despite him ending up on the losing side, and missing out on another Lance Todd trophy. The ex-England captain made a remarkable 40 tackles and no misses (centre Stefan Ratchford a surprising top tackler for Warrington on 35), carried for 156 metres (more than twice as many metres as any other Leeds forward), and made seven offloads, with no errors.
Leeds will need a similar effort from Peacock if they are to deal with Warrington's pack, but he has shone in every play-off game en-route to the Grand Final, and can always be relied upon to step up on the big occasions. If Leeds can contain Warrington up front then they look to have the creativity to trouble them in the backs this time around. The return of McGuire absolutely key to their backline.
Warrington may well be the clear choice on paper, but that could have been said about every side Leeds have come up against since the close of the regular season, and they look fair value to put their experience to good use at 2.942/1.
Back Leeds Rhinos to beat Warrington Wolves at 2.942/1