The YEP jury have their say ahead of the Magic Weekend in Manchester.
Well we won Cas’ Grand Final on a Grand Final-type night weather-wise and with a second-half display of measured, controlled rugby reminiscent of those superb nights at Old Trafford.
Superb defence yet again on the back of a brilliant kicking game were the foundations for the hard-fought victory.
The only non-Grand Final aspect were the surroundings. Walking down the lane and then cutting through the terraced houses to the turnstiles is like being Gary Sparrow in the old TV series Goodnight Sweetheart. It feels like you are suddenly transported back to Britain in the 1940s. The ‘rustic’ old ground does add to the occasion and in a masochistic kind of way I will miss the trips ‘darn lane’ when Cas finally do move to pastures new.
On the field they are certainly heading in the right direction. As I wrote last week I expected this game to be our toughest test so far and it certainly was. Cas came out of the blocks with the desire and determination to upset the ‘Big City Boys’ and raced into an 8-0 lead. In seasons gone by we would have possibly wilted under the pressure or lost control of our discipline. This season is different. We took command of the game in the second half and credit goes to the whole team.
Over the past decade the Rhinos have never had many individual honours from the game and I feel this is down to our team ethic. There are no stand out players who we continually rely on because the benchmark is so high. It would take outstanding consistency to be recognised outside of the Leeds club.
As I said this season is different and Jamie Peacock is producing that outstanding consistency. He must be the front-runner for the inaugural Steve Prescott Man of Steel. People use old age, and I use ‘old age’ in the loosest sense, as a barrier or an excuse to not achieve things. Peacock doesn’t know the word ‘cannot’, he is inspirational. He is the sort of man you need in battle, that mental toughness, that willingness to do that extra tackle or hit up.
Everyone should watch him closely during the season, on and off the ball and simply enjoy what he does. He is raising the bar and the team is following. So now we go from rags to riches and to the Eithad Stadium.
The Magic Weekend, a concept we must applaud the RFL for.
It’s Wigan again and another tough challenge. Brian McDermott has given the boys some time off this week so let’s hope we come out refreshed and continue on with our great form.
Castleford are one of the most improved teams in Super League this year and this was proved by their performance last Thursday.
Leeds Rhinos games are always very important to Castleford players and fans. Castleford were well worth their half-time lead and the Rhinos had plenty to do in the second half to come away with the two points. Everyone played their part for the Rhinos, including the travelling supporters.
Big raps to Jamie Peacock, who played the full 80 minutes. Listening to an interview with Jamie I think Brian McDermott is going to have problems getting him off the field at any time over the next 18 months! Jamie is determined to enjoy every last minute of his playing days.
Sad, but not surprised, to hear that Ben Jones-Bishop will be leaving at the end of the season. Ben has stated more than once that he wants to play full-back and that is unlikely to happen at the Rhinos while Zak Hardaker is still in residence.
On to Magic Weekend which looks as though it could break attendance records this year. Our game against Wigan is the finalé to the Saturday entertainment. It will be a different atmosphere to a fortnight ago but, hopefully, the result will be the same.
That could depend on how many and which Wigan players are on the injury list. Very much looking forward to an enjoyable day out – and a win.
Castleford definitely gave Leeds a game last Thursday, with Leeds having to grind out a win.
Jamie Peacock is a monster and it’s like he’s 21 again.
Onwards to the Magic Weekend against Wigan Warriors – once again – in front of a massive crowd.
I can’t wait for this one!
Last Thursday’s game against Castleford was described as the toughest game of the season so far by Brian McDermott.
So tough was the game that Jamie Peacock played the full 80 minutes – an incredible achievement for a man of JP’s years.
My only concern with that is are Leeds and Brian McDermott relying too much on one man? With Peacock retiring next season is it not time Brad Singleton started getting more game time?
This week it’s the Magic Weekend and Wigan Warriors are next up for the Rhinos.
This game could steal the show in Manchester if the teams’ last meeting is anything to go by.
I was expecting Thursday’s game to be our toughest test so far and boy did it turn out to be. Cas always up their game against Leeds, but this year they had the skill factor too.
Another Leeds legend reached a milestone with Ryan Bailey reaching 300 appearances.
Magic next, can’t wait.
What was most pleasing about last week’s victory was that was as good as Cas get.
Yet Leeds showed the gulf in class, despite missing key personnel, and demonstrated quite clearly the difference between contenders and pretenders. Yes it was tough, but again pleasing defence and creative attack were the key.
This week Leeds face the champions Wigan for the second time in three weeks and the extra Magic Weekend fixture means both sides have an extra-difficult game. It does skewer the completion slightly when competitors like Huddersfield get easier opposition in Bradford, but it’s the hand that’s dealt and Leeds need to continue to show their quality to prevail.