By Jonathan Wilkinson
It has been a while since the Leeds Rhinos vs Bradford Bulls game has been the event of the season, back in 1999 it set the then Super League attendance record of 24,020. That game was at Odsal, the same fixture last year attached a crowd of just 14,554. This change is down to a few factors, one been that Leeds Rhinos have been the dominate team for the last 6 years and the other that Bradford have slowly slid down the league and haven't won a trophy since 2005 meaning they have lost a portion of their fair weather fans.
It is safe to say that the Leeds Bradford derby is the 3rd biggest derby of Super League, behind Wigan vs St Helens and Hull FC vs Hull KR. It simply doesn't have the history that those two have, only coming to the fore in Super League period.
However on Thursday the two meet in the most important Leeds Bradford game in years because of the poor start of the season by Leeds. The current champions have only won 3 games in 8 and currently find themselves outside of the top 8.
Bradford are above them by 2 points, a win by Leeds on Thursday would put them level and give them a much needed boost of confidence going into a tricky away game in the south of France against Catalans. Lose and they could be 4 points off 8th place and 10 behind first placed Wigan.
Although I would back Leeds to win the Grand Final where ever they finish in the playoffs, they have to turn it around sooner rather than later and where better than against their local rivals on Thursday.
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