The YEP jury have made their predictions ahead of Leeds Rhinos’ clash with Catalan Dragons in France
Last Friday was Leeds Rhinos first home game of the season, with Warrington Wolves the visitors.
As predicted, Warrington played a lot better than the previous week against St Helens.
It was no surprise when Warrington opened the scoring after a great take by Joel Monaghan.
Rhinos replied with three tries of their own. One of which was a superlative try from Tom Briscoe after he combined well with Zak Hardaker.
Rhinos looked fairly comfortable and nailed on for their two points until about four minutes from the end when Warrington scored.
This meant a nail-biting last few minutes, but we survived.
There’s still lots of room for improvement but our goalline defence was excellent and much better than it was at this time last year.
Next up is a visit to Catalan Dragons on Friday. This is never an easy place to get a win as we have found to our cost over the years. However on the evidence of our last two games I think that a win could be on the cards. We are spreading the ball well in attack and although some passes are going to ground this will improve the more games we play.
It doesn’t sound as though Kevin Sinfield will be fit to play so we will have to wait and see who his replacement will be. There is a chance that Liam Sutcliffe, who was very impressive for the under-19s last Thursday, will fill this void.
I don’t expect the rest of the team to change too much as everyone else seemed to get through the game without any injuries.
It seems to suit the team when they fly to France and back on the day of the game. The last time they did this they came back with the two points. Maybe the intensity of doing this suits them better than going to France for two or three days.
Catalan Dragons are a team that have a big strong pack so our forwards are going to need to play well and set that platform for our outstanding backs to perform at their best.
They also have an excellent player, ex-Rhino, Brent Webb at full back.
Although they seem to be struggling with their half-back pairing at present they can still hurt you and are well able to score tries. A large percentage of the Catalan squad were involved in the RLWC last year and this may be having some effect on their early-season form.
It won’t be an easy game for the Rhinos at this stage of the season, but it is one that they should come away from with the two points.
Brian McDermott said he expects it will be five weeks into the season until his team is up to speed and hitting something near top form.
If Friday night’s game against Warrington is anything to go by I am looking forward to this team hitting said top form. I thought Friday was one of Leeds’ better regular-season performances under McDermott. The defence, especially in the second half, was immense, epitomised by a wonderful try-saving tackle by the again impressive Zak Hardaker. And again after the introduction of Paul Aiton, Leeds looked assured and organised with ball in hand.
Mention must go to Tom Briscoe who scored a magnificent try. After a defence-splitting pass by Hardaker, he turned one man inside out and dismissed a second with a fabulous hand off.
Looking forward to tomorrow, Leeds face an off-form Catalan side, but they will be pleased to be on home soil after back-to-back away defeats to Hull FC and Castleford.
It’s always a tricky place to go and play, but Leeds’ recent form in France is good and if our forwards dominate, with Aiton pulling the strings, I expect more tries from the backs.
Not since 2009 have Leeds won their opening three fixtures and that year we went on to win our first five and a Grand Final. More of the same please Leeds.
After a hard-earned win versus Warrington Wolves at Headingley last week, we have a very tough game in the south of France tomorrow, which is always a difficult place to go to for any team.
Catalan are a very good side at home, but hopefully the guys can keep the consistency going and bring home the points.
Leeds Rhinos made it two wins from two after a hard-fought game against a much-improved Warrington side.
Jamie Peacock deserves a particular mention – making over 60 tackles is an incredible achievement. Kevin Sinfield hobbled off with seven minutes to go and will surely be a doubt for the games coming up.
Looking ahead to this week’s game, Catalan is probably one of the toughest away games of the season.
Leeds have won on their last two visits to France and with the way they have started the season they will go there in confident mood that they can make it three wins from three.
But the Dragons will be fired up for their first home game of the season.
A class try and resolute defence were the key factors in the victory over the Wire, with Zak Hardaker, Jamie Peacock and Tom Briscoe the stand out players.
Next is a trip to the winless Dragons. It is always a tough place to play with a partisan crowd, but I expect we will be too strong in the end.
Two words from Friday’s game: Tom Briscoe. We were sluggish in the first 20 minutes, then Briscoe kicked us into life. With Kallum Watkins by his side, they are a deadly combo.
Our goalline defence was epic. If we keep that up all season we will get our trophy back. It was good to see Kevin Sinfield back to his best; fingers crossed for a speedy recovery. Zak Hardaker’s tackle on Stefan Ratchford was a game-changer – 16,000 in and we made some noise. Catalan away is never easy, even less so being their first home game of the season.
After a close finish at Hull, they’ll want to capitalise on their second half there.
On another note, who picked the ref’s baby pink kit?