Leeds Rhinos v Catalan Dragons play-off: YEP jury predictions

Zak Hardaker and teammates celebrate Challenge Cup final victory. PIC: Steve Riding
Zak Hardaker and teammates celebrate Challenge Cup final victory. PIC: Steve Riding
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The YEP jury has its say ahead of the Super League elimination play-off between Leeds Rhinos and Catalan Dragons at Headingley.

IAN SHARP

With the regular season becoming a bit of a damp squib, the high of winning the Challenge Cup seems a very distant memory.

It seems that the losses to the London Broncos and the Bulls have come back to bite us on the backside.

A sixth-place finish for this group of players just isn’t where we should be and we yet again are into knock out rugby. No second chance, but we have done it twice from fifth before! So with that in mind I thought I’d do an end of regular season report, on some of the players from this year.

Hardaker: Apart from his brush with the ‘beak’ he has had another outstanding regular season, his pace and power gets the team on to the front foot from the off.

Briscoe: Started the season on fire, dropped off a lot in the middle, but is starting to get back to his best.

Watkins: The England centre with another good season, going to be a big player in the knockout stages.

Hall: Won the cup with his two great tries, can’t think of another winger that could have done what he did, outstanding year.

Moon: Sets the platform for Ryan to work his magic, good in defence and scores the odd try.

McGuire: Our on-field general, and keeps us ticking. Missed so much when not involved.

Legend.

Burrow: Very much missed in the middle part of the season, great at hooker, and running the defence line scares the opposition defence to death with his speed.

Sir Kev: Our captain, our leader, cool under pressure,and one hell of a kicker. About time he was knighted.

Leuluai: First to put his hand up and one hell of a defensive “machine”.

JP: Incredible, epic, irreplaceable.

JJB: Missed a lot of season, but now up and running and a big game player.

Ablett: Goes about his job with ease, never has a bad game, our lynchpin in so many ways, very underrated.

Delaney: Never takes a step back, true Aussie grit, big-game player, and has the coolest song!

Bailey: Had his discipline issues, but would be in my first 13 every week, if just to wind up the opposition.

Achurch: Stepped up at the start of the season and is turning into a fine player, needs more chances to play.

Aiton: Great in defence, still not convinced he is the best hooker we have.

A big thank you to the team players who stepped up to the plate and made the Rhinos contenders this season.

A speedy recovery to BJB from me and all Leeds fans and good luck for his future at Salford.

Now go for the double guys, Challenge Cup and Grand Final win. Then the World Club Series is ours for the taking next year. #MOT

GAVIN MILLER

Five league defeats in a row and a sixth-place finish.

Five league defeats to Bradford, London, St Helens, Wigan and Hull FC.

Leeds haven’t lost five league games in a row since the start of the 2000 season under Dean Lance.

Five league defeats in a row certainly isn’t the type of form you want to be taking into the play-offs.

But it’s that time of year again. It’s what we like to call at Leeds the business end of the season.

Zak Hardaker tweeted this week, it’s his favourite time of the season.

If all the Brian McDermott fans and the “We’ll win it from sixth” brigade are to be believed this is the time the coach gets the best out of his team and come October 11, it’ll be like the regular season never existed and the humiliating defeats to Bradford, Wakefield, Hull and London never happened.

I mean, I buy a season ticket and I travel to away games, but it appears that the regular season “means nothing” and it’s all about the next few weeks.

It’s about the play-offs, it’s about knockout rugby, it’s about getting to Old Trafford.

I hope we get there, I truly hope we do, but I can’t help feeling with the current form and the Challenge Cup already in the bag, our season could be done.

It’s time for Brian McDermott to prove if he’s man or myth.

MATT FOWLER

That’s it we are all done. A disappointing end to the season but the rules are clear and league form counts for very little come play-off time.

The pressure and the intensity is cranked up to new levels. Which team has the know-how to navigate their way to Old Trafford?

Don’t write off the Rhinos!

CHRISTINE KIDD

The game against Hull was a disappointing end to the regular season.

A victory was within the Rhinos’ grasp and then, yet again, they contrived to lose the game.

The fans and players know that the team can play so much better than this and they will need to if they are to progress in the play-offs.

We are now into knockout football starting this Saturday with a home game against Catalan. They will come to Headingley full of confidence after a convincing win against Castleford last Saturday.

It’s still anybody’s guess as to which two teams will be competing in the Grand Final. There is no stand-out performer in the top-eight.

ADAM ANDERSON

Play-Off rugby has arrived, we come into the plays-offs at sixth and starting in the knockout stages. Hopefully we can overcome Catalan on Saturday, who looked very good versus Castleford last weekend. Five Leeds players walked into the Super League Dream Team, which was a shock, but congratulations to them all.

MATTY WILCOCK

Leeds Rhinos ended their regular rounds of Super League with yet another defeat and with it another diabolical performance.

Hull, who were third-from-bottom going into the game, played like their league position suggested but Leeds more than matched them for errors and clear lack of skill throughout the game.

The highlight of the night for me was Leeds’ star man Carl Ablett chasing back 80 metres to stop what would have been a certain try. Going into the play-offs on the back of only two wins from the last nine league games is by no means ideal but Wigan, with similar form last year, showed that when those play-offs start form counts for nothing.

Tom Briscoe.

Five talking points from Leeds Rhinos’ victory over St Helens