The YEP jury has its say ahead of Wakefield Wildcats v Leeds Rhinos.
Sunday was in some respects a bit disappointing despite the last-minute excitement resulting in victory.
At 31-30 down with a minute remaining I felt Leeds had got exactly what they had deserved. They’d trundled the ball down the middle for the majority of the game and the backs were starved of possession. Ironically whenever they did get the ball in attacking positions they invariably scored or threatened the line.
Paul Aiton worked his socks off in the middle of the park, moving his troops around and doing his best to get the ball spread around. Leeds however are still missing the diminutive Rob Burrow, whereas he isn’t a traditional hooker, what he does do is put the opposition on the back foot and helps the forwards gain the advantage over the opposition.
My real concern about Leeds is the nagging concern I’ve had for three seasons now. What is Brian McDermott’s plan? What is his Plan A and Plan B?
From watching his teams closely over the last three-and-a-half seasons, it’s clear McDermott demands hard work, commitment, go forward and effort. His post match interviews are always littered with such words, but what I want to hear and see is a definitive plan to either deal with the opposition or put our stamp on a game.
So much of Leeds’ best attacking play seems off the cuff, which is marvellous and exciting when it comes off, but how often do we as fans see the players running lines 20/30 metres out. Not as much as we should, is the answer.
Watch a Leeds set, I can predict it tackle by tackle – first Hall drives in, 2nd Briscoe drives in, 3rd goes through a set of hands, prop drives in, 4th it’s the prop again, 5th the second row drives in and last, it’s generally an ineffective kick. It happens over and over again.
Perhaps I’m over critical and my expectations are unrealistic but I maintain this is the most talented Leeds team I’ve seen for many years and so often I feel underwhelmed about how they are set up and sent out to play.
McDermott took Leeds to consecutively their worst League finishes since summer rugby began with two fifth-placed finishes in 2011 and 2012. Unbelievably they ended up winning two Grand Finals to cover up the inconsistency of the regular season. I felt on Sunday the result again covered the cracks.
Still, on the positive side, Leeds still sit in second place in the league, only a point behind St Helens and visit Wakefield tomorrow. It’s a ground Brian McDermott has struggled on but a ground where the fans will demand both a performance and a victory.
Leeds Rhinos remain in second place in the league, albeit by the skin of their teeth after last Sunday’s dramatic 32-31 victory over a determined Catalan side who were just seconds away from claiming their first ever win at Headingley.
A late Liam Sutcliffe penalty made sure that didn’t happen.
Missing captain Kevin Sinfield, the Rhinos never looked in control of the game at any period and certainly missed his kicking and organisation throughout the entire game.
Catalan’s full-back Morgan Escare was a constant menace to the Leeds defence, which at times looked like the worst defence in the league, let alone the best.
The sign of a champion side is one who can play badly and still come away with a victory; look how many times we’ve seen the likes of Wigan and St Helens play poorly and still escape with a victory, but one thing is for sure, if Leeds are going to get anywhere near a final this year then that defence will have to be like the one we watched in the earlier rounds of Super League and not the one we have seen these last couple of months.
This week’s game is against Wakefield. The Wildcats have been on a mini revival of late after replacing head coach Richard Agar with his assistant James Webster. Leeds will have to make sure that they play with plenty of aggression if they are to get the win.
To win when you don’t play well is often seen as a good sign, but we sure left it late.
The soft defence was my main concern and it will need to be addressed pretty quickly. Defending like that cannot become a habit.
Walters again impressed along with Achurch. Bring on the Wildcats.
Nicked at the death! Another poor defensive effort by Leeds last week versus Catalan.
There were too many rushed plays throughout the game and Catalan would have been deserved winners had it not been for the obstruction in the final minute.
Josh Walters was one of Leeds star performers in the game, looking for work and getting over for another try. Luke Briscoe had a very good stint and looked enthusiastic.
Hopefully, we have players like Leuluai, Sinfield and Robbie Ward back for the trip to Wakefield tomorrow. All them coming in will definitely make a difference to our game.
I always enjoy a Friday night trip to Wakefield, who I’m sure will be up for the game too.
Followed all the action from the game against Catalan Dragons on Twitter.
I feared the worst when I read the team line up but the players eventually gained a well earned two points.
Wakefield are on a bit of a run at present and won’t make tomorrow’s game easy for the Rhinos.
Another Sunday afternoon game, just like the old days before Super League. Up for us was Catalan Dragons.
At home they have been a force at times, but they don’t seem to travel well. They have a big pack that can take some slowing down and one or two creative players who can cause problems. And they did just that against us.
We started like we just had a big Sunday roast. Sloppy tackling, poor kicking on the last again. Six down after one minute 30 is not the start we hoped for.
A great 80-yard try from Ben Jones-Bishop gave us a kick on. Tom Briscoe had yet another poor game. Great credit to Liam Sutcliffe for the kick to win the match at the end.