The YEP jury have their say ahead of Castleford Tigers v Leeds Rhinos.
There are many ways to sum up a performance like the one versus Wigan Warriors last Friday night. I would say it was perfect and definitely sent a message out to the rest of Super League.
But firstly, I would like to thank every single person that was at the game for the most impeccably observed minute’s silence I’ve ever been a part of. Having been brought up in the area where Corpus Christi is, you feel the pain the school is going through. Mrs Maguire’s family, friends, pupils and colleagues will all be very proud.
On with the performance, without players like Rob Burrow, Paul Aiton, Stevie Ward, Jamie-Jones Buchanan and playing Carl Ablett at six, I went to the game expecting Wigan to be a challenge, with them going home with the points. How wrong was I!
Wigan couldn’t contain us for a lot of the game, from minute two when Danny McGuire went over the line to score the first try. We had a very aggressive defence throughout, which got in the faces and tormented players like John Bateman and Michael McIlorum.
I’d like to point out Chris Clarkson’s performance, who looked to be used at hooker, but he didn’t look out of place at all, and he is getting his form back he had a few years ago.
Once again, the backline was superb and, at this moment, it looks like we could have four out of five England backs by the end of the season. Ryan Hall gets stronger every game, Tom Briscoe and Kallum Watkins’partnership is getting better with every game that comes, but Zak Hardaker, is breathtaking in every game so far and is looking like he could overtake Sam Tomkins as England’s No 1.
The forwards – Jamie Peacock and Kylie Leuluai, who might be the older, experienced players, are playing like they are 20 years younger and replacing these two in the next few years is going to be tough.
We are now 11 games in and have conceded less than 100 points, our defensive game is second to none. I don’t know what was said in pre-season, but it seemed to have worked.
Castleford Tigers are our opponents tonight and are playing outstanding rugby. They went to Huddersfield last Sunday and were beaten very narrowly, but with Micheal Shenton looking back to his best and Justin Carney, Daryl Clark and Adam Milner all playing superbly, this will be a very tough game. Hopefully the lads are ready and we can overcome the test.
I look forward to seeing the blue and amber colours through-out the terraces tonight.
Well it’s onwards and upwards for the Rhinos. Last Friday Leeds produced another impressive display against an in-form Wigan.
Throughout the game I never really felt like we were going to lose, a testament to our superb defence and potent back line.
It also says a lot that few fans noticed any issues or worries about the hooking role. Clarkson and Sinfield rotated around the position to great effect with others pitching in when required. We are in a rich vein of form and long may it continue.
Tonight that form will face its biggest challenge to date in my eyes. Being a Kippax lad this fixture is ‘Derby Day’. I have lived in Kippax all my life and make no mistake I am still in a minority being a Rhino. It’s the Cas fans’ Grand Final, their biggest home tie and one they will be up for, especially having such a good start to the season themselves.
It will be a great atmosphere tonight ‘darn lane’, a test both physically and mentally for the boys.
The banter and atmosphere will be crackling. I just hope the Rhinos can match the Tigers’ desire because they will come out all guns blazing looking to upset the Rhinos rhythm.
It’s a big night and a win would be fantastic, if only for me, so I can buy my milk from the local shop without the ‘friendly’ hellos I will get if we lose.
Come on boys do it for me!
Hard to put last Friday’s game in to 55 words, but here goes: Mitch had yet another great game, JP was JP – epic, Kylie showed power and poise. Hall gets better and better. And Zak, wow getting better every week. Defence stupendous yet again and the fans, wow what a noise we made. Bring on the Tigers.
Since Brian McDermott took over as head coach at Leeds, the team has finished the regular season fifth, fifth and third (just).
Obviously the two fifth-place finishes resulted in Grand Final wins and earned McDermott’s Leeds the tag of “we win when it matters”. I have long argued that Leeds have under-performed under McDermott having “won it from fifth” twice. But this season Leeds currently sit top of the table after 11 rounds with some spectacular numbers in both the attack and defence columns. The challenge however is to remain there.
Leeds must look at this year as the year they “win it from first” and realise the massive potential they have.
MATTY WILCOCK Leeds and Wigan games very rarely disappoint and last Friday was no exception.
Rhinos started with Chris Clarkson at hooker and he didn’t let anybody down.
Tonight’s high-flying neighbours Castleford Tigers could be a banana skin, but with the way Leeds are playing they should have enough.
After an impeccably observed minute’s silence, in memory of teacher Ann Maguire, the Rhinos put in another fantastic performance to claim a win against Wigan Warriors.
Zak Hardaker is fast growing into one of the best full-backs in rugby league.
It would be great to see him sign an extended contract with the Rhinos, but I’m not sure he will be able to resist the lure of Australia and the NRL.
Offers are sure to be on the table.
Today’s clash with Castleford has all the hallmarks of another great game. Two local rivals at the top of their game.
It will make exciting viewing for spectators at the game and those watching on TV.