LEEDS RHINOS are entering what could be a make-or-break period of the season, Aussie hooker Matt Parcell reckons.
In the space of a week Leeds will square up to three of Betfred Super League’s bottom-five. Rhinos, who are fourth in the table, play host to eighth-placed Warrington Wolves tomorrow, travel to bottom club Widnes Vikings on Monday and are back at Headingley four days later when they take on second-bottom Leigh Centurions.
Three wins would be a huge boost to their hopes of going into the Super-8s in one of the semi-final spots, but Wakefield Trinity and Wigan Warriors are just two points behind and Parcell warned any slip-ups now could prove costly.
“It’s a big two weeks coming up,” he admitted. “We’ve got three games very close together and it’s a big one [tomorrow] night. They are fighting to get into the Super-8s and we are fighting to stay in the top-four.
“That makes it a big one and there’s six points on offer in the space of a week so this period is going to have a big bearing on the table and we want to start with a win.”
Rhinos came through a similar fixture pile-up at Easter in good shape, with back-to-back wins over Hull and Widnes in Super League and a Ladbrokes Challenge Cup victory over Doncaster.
“It would be nice to do the same,” Parcell said. “But we have got to focus on this next game and get some points from that. I think we can take positives from [the defeat by Castleford Tigers] last weekend.
“I thought going into half-time we were on top and we had them in that grind. Coming out for the second half we had a 15-minute period when we made silly errors, we couldn’t complete and we gave them opportunities.
“They are a very good team and if you give them too many opportunities they’ll score points. We took a lot out of it, going into half-time we were looking strong, but that 15 minutes after half-time was disappointing. Making silly errors like we did sort of kills you.”
Warrington were bottom of the table before they beat Leeds 25-14 at HJ Stadium last month. That was their first win of the season, but they have been beaten just once in their last eight matches and drew with champions Wigan Warriors at the Magic Weekend five days ago.
“It was a tough one,” Parcell said of Rhinos’ round-eight defeat.
“They hadn’t won for a while and we ended up defending a lot. We took a lot out of that game, despite the loss. Talking to the boys, they say Warrington always aim up when they play Leeds so we’re expecting that again.”
Parcell started the previous clash with Warrington on the bench, for the first and so far only time in his Leeds career. His battle with Warrington’s no9 Daryl Clark could be crucial tomorrow and the Aussie insists he is relishing the challenge.
“I want to test myself against him,” Parcell said of Clark. “He is one of the top hookers over here so it is a good test for me personally.”