The YEP jury provide their views ahead of Leeds Rhinos v St Helens at Headingley.
Woeful Leeds lacked spark and ingenuity and at times looked like ‘rabbits caught in the headlights’ against Wigan. It was a poor performance against a Warriors side that raised their game as they sought revenge for the Grand Final defeat in October.
It was always going to be a tough season for the Rhinos. Every Super League team, without exception, will be endeavouring to dethrone the champions and coupled with a lengthy injury list it is not the start to 2016 that many predicted for Leeds.
Leeds fans must not push the panic button yet! There is a long way to go in the season and I do not believe that we have turned into a bad team overnight. There is a reason that Wigan have not lost at home since 2014.
Their defence on Friday was almost impenetrable. I was hopeful in a short five-minute spell, early in the second half, that the game might turn. Leeds, for a few brief moments, actually started to move the ball and looked as if they might create a break, but as the saying goes ‘you have to complete to compete’ and we just did not complete enough sets when we eventually had the ball in our hands.
Too often we gave away penalties and field position or the ball went to ground. A team must have possession to drive forward and Leeds just did not get enough of the ball during the whole match.
There were some positives. I thought when Beau Falloon came on for his debut we looked a different team. He was busy and inventive, making Leeds look a little more dangerous.
The return of JJB was also heartening. Many doubted that Jamie could return from such an horrific injury, but his steely determination and self belief was very evident on Friday night – he never gave up the chase and his tackle count must have been high for the time he was on the field.
We now look forward to Friday evening when we welcome St Helens to Headingley. After the drubbing they gave the Wildcats they will be riding high. Leeds need to believe in themselves and each other and throw the ball about and take chances. It will come good!
How to sum up the Wigan game: no leadership, weak tackling, poor go forward and awful attack. On paper that team is full of international standard players but appear no better than amateur level. A couple of positives in Hardaker and Falloon, but not much else to write about.
Games of rugby league between Leeds and Wigan will always have the billing of a classic.
Well, the DW Stadium did not host a classic on Friday night.
To briefly summarise, Wigan were simply just too fast, too strong and to slick for Leeds, who needed to punish them for only taking a six point deficit into half-time. Thankfully, a lacklustre performance culminated in Zak Hardaker making sure that Leeds weren’t going to be going home with a big fat polo – something that Wigan fans would never let us live down.
Moving on, St Helens come to Headingley on Friday, and with the return of a few more bodies Leeds can bounce back and finally set the wheels in motion.
We were fortunate last week that Wigan didn’t play much better than we did. Too many errors and a lack of threat in attack make it difficult to be positive ahead of tomorrow’s game against Saints. Hopefully the home advantage and returning players means we can put in a solid display, but I’m not holding out for the win.
Leeds were abysmal against Wigan last Friday. They appeared lost on the pitch and performed the worst they have this year.
The Rhinos showed no desire to attack and their line was broken many times; they were lucky to not lose by a lot more.
This week Leeds welcome back Danny McGuire into the squad which will provide a much-needed boost and give structure to the team. Although Lilley has performed exceptionally,
I’m doubtful he will feature in the team which is a great shame. St Helens have somewhat slipped under the radar this year and Leeds should be wary of the threat they pose. The Rhinos have the squad to match Saints and I believe they will, Leeds to win by two.
Last Friday was the worst Wigan versus Leeds game I have watched in the Super League era.
We were very lucky to only concede 28 points.
If it wasn’t for Zak Hardaker with his superb cover defence after poor kick chases, the scoreline would have been much worse.
Most of the lads look very short of confidence and I was shocked by the lack of match fitness we had especially in the second half.
Our defence for most of the game was frankly pathetic, the most frustrating thing about Friday was that Wigan were not that good themselves. A perfect chance to get a rare win at the DW Stadium blown in my opinion.
On to Friday night at home to Saints who have not set the world alight.
How did Keiron Cunningham deserve a year extension to his contract is bonkers?
He has not done anything significant to warrant that in my opinion.
They did get a very convincing win against Wakefield and seem to be getting their season back on track after a poor start.
We need to watch out for their pack and I expect James Roby to control the game at the ruck.
If we can get some lads from injury back it will be a huge boost.