The YEP jury have their say ahead of the Challenge Cup semi-final clash between Leeds Rhinos and Warrington Wolves.
Out-played, out-passioned and yet again Brian McDermott was out-coached by a former player and the assistant-coach we let go.
I thought, as most fans did, that we couldn’t play any worse than we have been doing over the last few months, and that we are getting to our time of the season where we kick up a gear and take the league by the scruff of the neck and get our trophy back where it belongs.
When I saw the squad I had a feeling that we were taking the Bulls far too lightly. They were off the back of a great win against high-flying Wigan, a new coach that’s got them playing for pride and it was their last big Yorkshire derby until they get back to the top flight.
So what does McDermott do? He rests all the players at once! I’ve called for players to be rested all season, but for pity’s sake not all at once.
Against a team that’s playing for pride, that was just utter suicide.
Where is the real Tom Briscoe?
What has happened to the player that started the season on fire?
He can’t catch the ball at all at the minute, was at fault for the first Bulls’ try by not catching a ball that he should be taking in his sleep, then the slide and drop to cough up the ball for their second.
I have not seen him run forward for weeks now, it’s always back and sideways. Come on Tom get back to the player you were at the start of the season.
Paul Aiton is looking lost in the big pond at Headingley. He was mediocre at best in a Wakefield shirt and has not made the step-up for me. Knocking on at the ruck is schoolboy stuff and not cutting it at the top of the league.
When Rob’s at 9 he skirts the defence line and causes panic, no such play from Paul, who passes way to high to the first receiver. It was good to see Mitch Achurch back in the team, and he made himself a great try and seemed to be starting where he left off before injury.
So why oh why did McDermott leave Ian Kirke on?
He was out on his feet after 10 minutes, dropping the ball, not making any ground yet he did not bring Mitch back until the last six minutes. I hope it was not the last time we see BJB in the blue and amber and fingers crossed it’s just a knock.
And yet again Brett Delaney was our star man.
Never a backward step, first to put his hand up for the ball and a try and a man-of-the-match performance too.
Watching Leeds under Brian McDermott is a rollercoaster ride. There has been some undoubted highs, a Challenge Cup semi-final v Wigan, the 2011 qualifying semi-final at Warrington as well as obviously the two Grand Final victories.
There has been some major downs too. Two Challenge Cup final defeats, a World Club Challenge defeat at home and last season two play-off defeats to Warrington and Wigan.
However it’s the performances during the regular season that concerns me the most. In 2011 we failed to win in 12 games, including two runs of going three games without a victory.
In 2012 we lost by 42 points to Saints, 48 points to Wigan, inexplicably by 20 points to Wakefield and Huddersfield did the double over us.
In 2013 there was a run of four consecutive defeats and Huddersfield managed to beat us three times scoring 96 points and conceding only 34.
This year Leeds had already lost to Wakefield, Huddersfield (again) and badly to Wigan and Warrington. None of this however has been as bad as the defeat on Friday to the already relegated Bradford. It was simply appalling. The blame for how such a talented side can take the field with no obvious plan or tactics has to lay at the feet of the coach. Either he can’t get the best out of this side or he doesn’t care for the regular season. Either way, something has to change.
Well the talking is finally at an end. We have been ‘building’ for this semi-final for an age.
We have heard players and the coach talk about performance and gaining momentum. Talk is cheap. That performance last week has only added pressure. It’s time to deliver and get to Wembley. Come on Leeds!
I think the less said about last Friday night’s performance against Bradford Bulls the better!
Next up is the Challenge Cup semi-final against Warrington Wolves. This is a difficult one to call as neither team is playing as well as they can.
Wolves beat Catalan last Friday, but they conceded 24 points.
Leeds should have some senior players back for this important game and if they are able to play to the best of their ability they could be playing in the Challenge Cup Final.
Every one of them needs to put in a match-winning performance.
We all know how much a Challenge Cup final win would mean to this group of players.
Another poor performance from Leeds last week versus Bradford, but it was written down before it even started.
We rested way too many players. Warrington, Castleford and Widnes hardly rested any. If we play the same way we did last week on Saturday versus Warrington Wolves, we will get played off the park.
Brian McDermott’s decision to rest a host of first-team players against Bradford last week backfired and blew up in his face.
I take nothing away from a Bradford side which will be playing Championship rugby next season. The Bulls were more fired up for the game and again questions must be asked of Brian McDermott’s ability to get the best out of his team.
I don’t disagree with resting players with such a big game coming up, but don’t play players out of position when young players such as Ash Handley could have been given the chance to show what they can do.
Warrington in the semi-final this week has got classic written all over it.