Our YEP Jury have their say on Leeds Rhinos’ defeat to Huddersfield Giants and Saturday’s trip to Catalans Dragons.
I really was not expecting to lose against Huddersfield last Thursday, but it turned out to be like a throwback to 2016.
At no point did Leeds look like they were going to take control of that game and play some of the rugby that has seen us record a lot of points in recent weeks.
Instead, silly errors were made and promising opportunities were wasted over and over again.
Not to put the blame on him, as none of the players were particularly good, but that game shows what happens when Joel Moon is not quite at it and doesn’t find the gaps in the defensive line or produce some magic.
In a game in which we needed some direction, having a centre in the halves did not help us at all. On the back of that, the attack wasn’t the same and we were nowhere near the threat that we can be.
When the offensive game isn’t working, the defence has to be on song to give a team a chance in the game, but that failed the Rhinos too.
This is becoming a bit of a worry now as, for three games in a row, we have not been strong enough without the ball, conceding 81 points overall against two sides at the bottom end of Super League and a League One outfit.
The loss means Leeds have fallen to fourth in the table and could fall further if we lose in Perpignan on Saturday afternoon. Catalans have lost their last two games, but the last time the Dragons played on home soil they eased past an in-form Salford, so this will be a tricky tie as always.
It has also been made harder by the fact we will be without Kallum Watkins and Ryan Hall, who are on international duty, and if you’re going to go anywhere without two of your best players, you would not want it to be the Stade Gilbert Brutus.
Catalans’ home advantage and the weakened Leeds side points towards a win for the French club, and, personally, I struggle to see us getting anything from this one.
But, hopefully, I’m proven wrong and the Rhinos bring back the points.
It was ‘throwback Thursday’ last week at Headingley. Unfortunately the throwback was to 2016 and a disjointed performance which offered very little in attack and was not great in defence.
With very little rugby breaking out, the question is why Brian McDermott’s Leeds team have often reverted to this type over his tenure at the club?
For me, it’s becoming more and more evident that the lack of a creative half-back will hamper Leeds’ aspirations. Joel Moon’s class as a rugby player is not under question, but watching Danny Brough totally run a game from the halves shows us what we lack.
Catalans Dragons will be tough with us missing players and maybe, in a few weeks, we will get an accurate idea of our level this season.
Leeds have ‘lost’ three successive second halves, but would that have happened during the coach’s ‘scrutiny period’?
Coaching Leeds is one of the biggest jobs in the northern hemisphere and the pressure exerted after the Cas game should be experienced most weeks.
Questions have to be asked about ‘what is going on’ based on the Huddersfield (and other) ‘performances’.
Rugby League continues to be an unpredictable sport. After a run of consistently poor offerings from the Giants and a spree of smooth running for the Rhinos, I was surprised by the result from the last round.
It was a bitter pill to swallow after the recent good form. Still, it’s games like that that remind us why we follow such a rollercoaster sport. We have to turn our focus and support to the next game. This week we look forward to Catalans in Perpignan. Historically, this has always been a difficult game to play. The Dragons rarely let an away team leave with a victory. This week’s game promises no less of a challenge. I hope to see the Rhinos dust themselves off from last week’s loss and expectations and to approach the round with fresh heads and determination.
One word to sum up last week’s game is ‘disappointing’.
To paraphrase the poet Longfellow: “When Leeds are good they are very good indeed, but when they are bad they are horrid.” No respect for possession, lack of cohesion, too many penalties. Once again beaten in the second half!