The YEP jury have their say ahead of Leeds Rhinos clash with Hull KR at Headingley.
The Rhinos’ mini crisis continues after last Friday’s narrow defeat to local rivals Wakefield.
Leeds went into the game missing no fewer than nine of their first-team squad, but on paper still had a team more than capable of dispatching a Wakefield side sitting near the bottom end of the table.
I, like most other fans, don’t like losing, but we all accept it and move on. But it’s not the losing that hurts the most, it’s the manner of the defeats that’s not sitting well with me.
Every game we have lost this year, including some we have won such as Catalan at home just a few weeks ago illustrate that Leeds are not playing well at all.
And it’s not just a case of the passes aren’t sticking at the moment or a few things just aren’t going our way at present – it’s EVERYTHING.
The way Leeds are playing at the moment isn’t down to players being out injured or players losing form. That’s part and parcel for every club throughout the season. Sure, losing one or two games here and there you can say you’ve got a few things to fix up and we will be okay, but Leeds haven’t played well since they defeated Wigan at Headingley back at the start of May.
That’s over two months ago and surely chief executive Gary Hetherington must be thinking, with a team that has so much talent in the entire first-team squad, how can they take to the field these past eight or nine weeks and play so badly?
The question must surely be asked: is Brian McDermott the right man to lead this talented bunch of players, or is it time to start looking elsewhere for a new coach?
Someone with fresh ideas who can get the best out of such a skilful team and bring in an actual game plan every week instead of the usual chuck-the-ball-around-and-hope-for-the-best style that coach McDermott seems so accustomed to. This week’s game is against Hull KR, who, in recent times, have been a bit of a bogey side for Leeds.
Hull KR sacked their coach Craig Sandercock very recently and, after sacking him, put in their best performance of the season in beating league leaders St Helens last week. So, they will come to Headingley with absolutely no fear at all.
For Leeds it’s a case of can they get back to playing how they were nearly 10 weeks ago, or is it going be the same inconsistent Leeds we see tomorrow night.
Either way, it should be a great game.
A damp wet Friday night at Wakefield didn’t bode well for the free-flowing passing rugby we need to get back into playing.
The incentive for a sixth straight win over the Wildcats was to go back to the top of the league, if only by a point, until Saints played on Sunday.
With the Wildcats on a three-game unbeaten run following the departure of coach Richard Agar, former assistant coach James Webster is on a roll.
With Kylie, Mitch, Ablett and JJB missing from the squad we again looked to the young players to step up off the bench again.
BUT, no plan A this week nevermind plan B. I don’t rate Paul Aiton as a hooker. Robbie Ward seemed to get the men moving quicker. No dummy runners, no off-loads. Have we kicked a 40/20 yet this year? I think Danny McGuire’s try was a bit harsh to be knocked off; it looked like Ryan Hall had made the tackle before the ball was passed. We must do better.
With Zak Hardaker expected back in a few weeks, surely Ben Jones-Bishop should be kept in the first 13 and played on the wing instead of Tom Briscoe? Briscoe, in the last month at least, has not been the player he was at the start of the season.
He’d be lucky to catch hayfever at the minute, and went missing for large parts of recent games. BJB has shown his worth in the last few matches. A starter for me.
Another game when the two points were won in the last few minutes of the game.
Unfortunately on Friday it was Wakefield who scored and came away with the victory.
If Leeds want to stay in contention at the top of Super League performances need to improve. Player absences can no longer be used as an excuse.
Some days you’re the statue and some days you’re the pigeon.
And that was the case, unfortunately, for Leeds Rhinos at Wakefield.
The Wildcats (who have been in a good run of form since James Webster took over from Richard Agar as head coach) played well and snatched the win – very much like we had done the previous week.
Defensively I thought we were much better, but offensively we were still lacking a cutting edge, perhaps not surprising with the personnel we have missing.
Rob Burrow’s return offers some hope. Top spot is still the aim.
Last week I said Leeds were papering over the cracks; on Friday the cracks were well and truly exposed.
Despite the injuries, Leeds should have had more than enough for Wakefield, yet came up short. Plan A was woefully uninspiring and plan B was non-existent. The coach has to step it up tomorrow night.
It was a very disappointing display last Friday against a Wakefield outfit that are looking at a late charge for a play-off spot.
We looked flat, nothing in our game, no set plays. They took advantage and deserved the two points.
I still think that Danny McGuire’s try should have been given as Ryan Hall didn’t play at the ball, but there’s nothing we can do now but look ahead to the game versus Hull Kingston Rovers tomorrow. Hopefully we will have some familiar faces back for the game, we have definitely missed Kevin Sinfield and Rob Burrow in recent weeks.
Hull KR are coming to Leeds in good form, hopefully that ends tomorrow.