SUPER LEAGUE survival is another step closer for Leeds Rhinos after their 42-28 win at London Broncos in the First Utility Qualifiers.
Leeds have won eight of their last nine games and all three so far in the middle-eights, but made hard work of seeing off an impressive London side two days ago. They will need to improve, particularly defensively, to get the points next time out.
Here are five talking points from the game at London Trailfinders.
1: Danny McGuire has had no luck in his first season as Rhinos’ captain.
He is facing a fourth spell on the sidelines after suffering an injury to his right ankle against London.
At 33 that has to be a concern for Rhinos, but he shouldn’t be written off yet.
McGuire has a habit of following a poor campaign with a strong one and if he can get a full pre-season in he is still capable of making a big impact next year.
2: Synthetic pitches haven’t been kind to Leeds in 2016. McGuire’s injury at London came six months after Carl Ablett, Tom Briscoe and Ashton Golding all suffered ankle damage in a 56-12 drubbing at Widnes Vikings.
3: Something in the London air seems to bring the best out of Rhinos winger Tom Briscoe, who has scored eight tries in his last two games in the capital.
Briscoe followed up last year’s five-try Challenge Cup final feat with a hat-trick against London and his return from injury has been a factor in Rhinos’ recent winning run.
4: London have a strong Leeds connection, with Danny Ward on the coaching staff and another ex-Rhinos prop Jamie Thackray in the playing squad. Stanningley product Jack Bussey, who is being linked with a move to Toronto Wolfpack for next year, had a strong game against his former club. London still have work to do on and off the field before they will be ready for Super League, but they are making good progress.
5: Rhinos will need to be better in their final four games of the year. They scored some nice tries, but were sloppy with the ball for much of the game and their defensive effort wasn’t good enough. Five tries conceded was too many against a Championship team.