Our YEP Jury have their say on the victory over Wigan and tomorrow’s clash at Warrington Wolves.
As I took my seat on Friday night, I had mixed feelings. I was pretty sure we’d see a good game as Leeds had been finding form and Wigan, injuries and all, were on a little slide which for me evened the game up and gave me hope of a victory.
As it turned out, I was not disappointed as not only did I get to witness a Leeds victory over Wigan, which is always special, but we got to see what was, in my opinion, the best game we’ve seen at Headingley for a good few years.
I’d go as far as to say as well, that that was Leeds’ best 80-minute performance since the Grand Final of 2015.
The turnaround in fortunes, for me, has been down to three players. Matt Parcell is an inspired signing and if we keep hold of this hooker longer than most of Brian McDermott’s other hookers, he could turn into a superstar for Leeds.
The second two are because of the work he is doing at acting-half.
His game allows Adam Cuthbertson to do what he does best and, in my humble opinion, when he plays like he is doing, he’s the best forward in the competition.
He does things no other prop does, he has great hands and, in some respects, is our most creative player.
The final one is in the backs and Parcell’s play allows Kallum Watkins the freedom to destroy teams down their edge.
Watkins, again for me, is the best centre in the competition and is showing it again.
Warrington have one point this season and no wins.
I was tempted to say ‘lump on’ for a Wire win as it would be typical for them to record their first victory against Leeds, but, if we produce the same performance this week as we did last week, then there is no reason to bet against anything other than a Leeds victory.
If McDermott sticks with this winning formula, leaves Parcell to do his thing and our back line continues to see as much ball as they have recently, then let’s see two more points.
But, a Tony Smith-coached team are no-one’s fools.
If last week was when fans dared to hope, then this week is the time for believing.
Always a challenging game against Wigan, the team rose to that challenge and nailed it. The win hasn’t come cheaply for the Rhinos, with Brett Ferres now banned after returning for just a few games.
Whilst Wigan weren’t fielding a fully fit senior squad, it’s clear they underestimated the current Leeds momentum. The loss against Castleford a month ago is a dark spot on the season, but since then it has really lit a fire under the Rhinos.
The team are not neat and tidy.
These are tough, gritty games but we’re seeing great results as fans. Leeds is returning to a side which people want to watch, you want to see what they will pull out of the bag this round.
Friday’s game saw some superb tries from Leeds, a feat they were struggling with just a month or so ago.
The team has definitely squashed a lot of the darker rumours that had started to creep out.
I hope that the past few games aren’t just a phase, and that the team will continue to play this way in upcoming games.
We have points-hungry Warrington Wolves this week, who will be biting at the bit to gain a few extras. I say let them try.
The Wigan game certainly lived up to expectations, an-end-to end encounter which was finally only decided in the last few minutes.
On the positive side, Leeds looked confident and full of energy, with a willingness to promote the ball; whilst on the negative side it seems that they have developed a habit of allowing the opposition back into the game.
There seems to have been a welcome change in the team over the last month. A steely determination and a greater willingness to work for each other has shown in the results, many players are now coming into form.
However, on the whole, the performance was exactly what was required, ending the month of March on a high with hopefully more to come.
Another cracking win for the boys over our rivals was the reward for a good display across the board with the icing on the cake being the return to the brilliant best of Kallum Watkins.
The only low this week has been the suspension of Brett Ferres. Roll on Wire tomorrow.
Like a microcosm of the Brexit argument, Leeds fans have been split over the Brian McDermott question.
Some, like myself, would have understood his removal after the opening games but to his credit, he has survived his ‘trial’ period with four wins, culminating in the comprehensive defeat of Wigan and perhaps the best all-round performance for over a season.
Tomorrow’s trip to Warrington pitches Leeds against their old coach Tony Smith and, like our season a year ago, against a side who can’t seem to buy a win.
The Loiners must be wary of the ‘wounded animal’ after their first league point of the season last week and be on their mettle to avoid becoming the Wire’s first scalp of this campaign.
Brian McDermott was given four games to save his job and won them all reasonably well, so he deserves huge credit for the turnaround we have witnessed over the last month. Victory over Wigan sets us up nicely to take on winless Warrington, but the Wolves will be buoyed by their draw with Hull FC.