The YEP jury make their predictions ahead of Leeds Rhinos’s clash with London Broncos at Headingley.
One of our most decorated and unsung players set a milestone last Friday when Carl Ablett reached 200 appearances for Leeds Rhinos.
A five-time Grand Final winner, in different positions at centre and in the second-row, he made his Super League debut in 2004 off the bench in a draw at London.
A versatile player who I don’t think gets the accolades in the press that he deserves. He always seems to be in the right place, making last-ditch tackles, bursting through the line, great in defence, and a proven try scorer, as he showed in the 2012 Grand Final when he came onto a short ball and powered over Lee Briers to score and kick us into life in the second half and an eventual win over the Wolves. A great player and one I know the fans appreciate.
The game before, at Huddersfield, was our worst 80 minutes of the season – sloppy tackles, not wrapping up player and ball, letting them get the ball away.
We just seemed off the pace and I think if Sky had not been there some of the tries that were chalked off would have been given and we would have had another loss against the Giants.
Are they our hoodoo team? We have not beaten them in six now, or is it that we show them far too much respect? Or that coach Paul Anderson has much better tactics against us than Brian McDermott has against them?
We were led to believe that Ben Jones-Bishop was not picked because McDermott wanted to have a bigger pack, which made sense, right up to the point that he left Mitch Achurch on the bench for the full 80 minutes and played Jamie Peacock for the full 80 when we had another prop sitting there keeping the bench warm.
Brett Delaney went off, but still no sign of Mitch. Yet he played Jamie Jones-Buchanan for 60 minutes and as much as he is a great player, I thought he had his worst game in a long time. To come back after an injury lay off is hard, plus in such a big game it showed he was match rusty.
It’s good to see Stevie Ward back from his long-term lay-off and playing fantastically. We lost last year’s semi at Wigan because we played injured players and tired players, so what is the point of not rotating the squad?
If Mitch never gets to play how will he ever get the confidence he needs to progress in the team? Sometimes it seems the team is picked on reputation and name rather than using all our available talent. The Broncos are in town tomorrow, which may be a good time to rest a few senior players or at least bench them and give them a 20-minute run out. We’re in a no-win situation: if we win by six we will be in crisis and if we win by 36 it will be expected! It’s about time we rotated the team; it’s a long time till Old Trafford.
Injuries are a given as we found last year so let’s keep ALL the squad playing and fighting fit and raring to go.
The Widnes performance showed me how far we have come since this time last year.
Five games in and still unbeaten with nine points. It’s not just being unbeaten, but having conceded only 46 points in those five games could prove massive later on in the season.
Brian McDermott started the game showing that he’s not afraid to drop a top player, with Ben Jones-Bishop coming in for Ryan Hall and he didn’t disappoint, scoring two magnificent tries. The pick of the bunch of Leeds tries had to be the combination between Brett Delaney and Ryan Bailey, with Delaney running through the free space, passing to Bailey who had to brush off a Widnes player to run up to 90 yards to score. Our defence looked in top shape, with Widnes only scoring in the final minutes through Rhys Hanbury, which in my opinion was undeserved and the Rhinos players will be devastated at conceding so late in the game.
I am very happy that Ryan Hall has signed a new contract at Leeds, keeping him here until 2018. It’s great to see that over the years we’ve managed to keep our home-grown talent away from the NRL and rugby union. There’s something in the water that makes them want to stay at Leeds.
Onwards to tomorrow and London Broncos.
You’d expect this to be a very good chance to rest a few tired legs, as well as gaining a massive points haul going into the game versus Saints.
It was another solid performance from Leeds last week. BJB will be pleased with his tries, but the truth is Leeds made an unbeaten Widnes side look ordinary, without really getting out of first gear. The same again against a woeful London side tomorrow should suffice then it’s on to a real test against St Helens.
The game last week marked the 200th appearance of one of the Rhinos’ “unsung” heroes, Carl Ablett.
He has won five Grand Finals and two world titles, played second-row, loose-forward, centre and stand-off. He is seen by many outside of the Rhinos family as an all-rounder, in reality he is simply an outstanding rugby league player.
Against Widnes he started in the second-row and had to move out to centre. There was no panic from anyone in the ground because they knew Carl would not only ‘do a job’ but add value and be just as dangerous.
I see Ablett as a key member of this team with even more improvement in him. He will be a major part of our future success.
Brian McDermott said he’s still “waiting for that perfect performance”. Well if last Friday night is anything to go by Leeds will take some beating when that does happen. This week’s game against a struggling London side should see Leeds make it five wins out of six and maintain their unbeaten start to the season.
The Rhinos’ second-half performance last Friday against Widnes was their best so far this season.
There were some very impressive tries. Kevin Sinfield had an excellent game. This Friday’s game should be the easiest of the season so far looking at the form of London Broncos, but as we have learned in the past nothing can be taken for granted.
Hopefully Jamie Peacock will be rested after his sterling performances over the last few weeks. Selection of the backs in not going to be an easy task as Ben Jones-Bishop took over from Tom Briscoe in the try-scoring stakes last week. It looks as though whoever plays outside Kallum Watkins can’t help but score!