Leeds Rhinos: YEP Jury give their verdicts

Liam Sutcliffe scores against St Helens.
Liam Sutcliffe scores against St Helens.
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Our YEP Jury have their say on the victory over St Helens and the challenge ahead against Warrington.

CRAIG TARBOTTON

It’s always one of the first fixtures Leeds fans look for when they are released at the start of the season – Rhinos and Saints.

Two great teams who are pretty similar, both clubs just want to play the game how it’s meant to be, no underhand game plans, no pushing the rules to the limit, just fair entertaining rugby.

Another similarity is how both teams believe in promoting the youngsters and very successfully too.

Leeds started the match at 100 miles an hour. Paul Aiton was pulling the strings once more with Liam Sutcliffe who started the game with Brian McDermott opting to leave captain Kevin Sinfield on the bench, a brave decision in a big game like this but a decision that paid off and Sutcliffe was the man of the match for me.

In the first 30 minutes Leeds tore St Helens to shreds. They had no answer to our quick play the balls and a mixture of great runs and sloppy tackling from Saints saw us fly into a commanding lead. Ash Handley started things off with the first of his hat-trick of tries by intercepting a Josh Jones pass and going almost the full length of the field to touch down.

Saints had a bright spell at the start of the second half, bagging a few tries and a fightback looked on. But Leeds stood firm as the forwards worked hard against the big Saints pack. Stevie Ward was fantastic once more. I’m sure he gets paid per tackle! Danny McGuire once again rolled back the years with another fine performance, as did Jamie Peacock who had a great battle in the middle up against ex-Rhino Kyle Amor.

Adam Cuthbertson continues to be the signing of the season and was off loading for fun. The opposition know he loves an off-load but they still can’t do anything about it.

We are now sitting pretty, six points clear at the top of the league.

And if we continue to play as we did on Friday evening then I can’t see anyone stopping the rampaging Rhinos. Up next is Warrington, the only team to beat us this year.

They have been up and down of late and Leeds will be out for revenge.

I can see us brushing Warrington aside and running out comfortable winners.

JON WINTER

I’m sure more than a few eyebrows were raised when Kevin Sinfield was named on the bench against Saints on Friday night.

But it appeared to give Liam Sutcliffe a huge vote of confidence; although Ash Handley was given man of the match I felt Sutcliffe deserved it.

He came up with some important plays in the first half, notably his break down Saints’ left edge, breezing past Jon Wilkin and passing inside to Hardaker.

Arguably better than this was Handley’s try just before half-time. You would be forgiven for thinking Sinfield supplied the crossfield kick for Handley to score; it had all the hallmarks of a Sinfield to Hall crossfield kick. It was perfectly executed and capped off a near-perfect first-half display for Leeds.

The second half wasn’t as plain sailing, but late tries sealed our dominance in the game and I felt the scoreline was deserved. Brian McDermott has had his doubters, I’m not one of them, and the way he has this team playing at the moment is great to watch.

Another tough game on Friday. We owe Warrington for our performance against them a couple of months ago.

They were much improved against Wigan last week but hopefully we can continue our great form.

ANNE BOSANQUET

We had an incredible first half against St Helens – which included Kevin Sinfield starting on the bench for the first time in 12 years.

Saints made many errors and we dominated. Our younger players really came into their own, with Ash Handley scoring a great first try of his hat-trick.

At the end of the first half we were 28-6 ahead. Saints looked like they hadn’t turned up.

The second half saw Saints put some points on the board. It was tough as they put up a stronger attack, but we remained resilient. It was a great game to watch and we ended six points clear at the top of the league.

I’m hoping we can keep this momentum going and keep the lead at the top.

Bring on Warrington Wolves at home.

JAMIE SMITH

An absolutely outstanding performance by the whole team as we tore apart the current champions in their own back yard.

Warrington are next up and after they inflicted upon us our only defeat so far, revenge is definitely on the cards. Rhinos win by 10.

DIANNE HALL

Well I don’t think that even the most ardent Rhinos fan saw this one coming! I thought that we would win but not that convincingly.

From our opening try to our last, we always seemed to be in control. A blistering opening 20 minutes rocked Saints and they never recovered. They were always on the back foot but if Luke Walsh had started earlier the game might have been different as Saints stepped up a gear after the break.

Our outstanding defence withstood most of what Saints had to offer. The psychological drop goal seemed to drain the Saints’ efforts. Ash Handley got most of the plaudits but this was an outstanding team effort with no weak links.

Tomorrow we play the only side to beat us this season, the result should be reversed.

GRAHAM POULTER

Watching what Leeds Rhinos did to St Helens reminded me of what South Sydney did to them in the World Club Challenge, class, desire, domination, skill and great team play – overall very impressive.

I’d like more of the same against Warrington, in every department!

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