Our YEP Jury look ahead to Leeds Rhinos clash at Warrington tomorrow and back to the victory over Hull FC.
Rhinos fan for 25 years
It’s the halfway point of the season and a good time to give Leeds Rhinos their mid term report.
As the end of May approaches, the Rhinos sit top of Super League and last week dispatched a spirited Hull FC side, but how have they fared and what have we, as fans, got to look forward to for the second half of the season?
Performance: In the main, this season has seen the level of performance increase significantly than the previous three under Brian McDermott. Whereas in 2010, 2011 and 2012 there seemed to be an acceptance that where Leeds finished the regular season was unimportant, this year it feels like there’s a real desire to finish top of the tree leading into the play-offs.
This has been reflected in the performances of the team, especially in defence which has been miserly to say the least. 132 points conceded in 14 games is less than 9.5 points per game which is remarkable.
The only real blot on the copy book was the defeat by Wigan at Magic Weekend where Leeds were put off their game and their level of performance dropped. Grade: A-.
Players: Leeds have been relatively lucky with injuries in the first half of the season, Paul Aiton, Rob Burrow and JJB aside. Leeds have even been able to rest and rotate a few. Tom Briscoe and Aiton have fitted in seamlessly, Mitch Achurch has stepped up a level and Kallum Watkins is cementing his place as the best centre in Super League. However, the two stand-out players by a distance have been Jamie Peacock and Zak Hardaker. JP’s desire and commitment is unreal and his level of performance, although almost expected, is out of this world. If he doesn’t win Man of Steel, something will have gone horribly wrong. Hardaker has put his World Cup disappointment far behind him and is putting in superb performances week in week out. His kick returns, his defence and reading of the game has been first class. Grade: A.
Coach: Brian McDermott got it spot on early in the season.
He quickly got used to having a hooker in the side, Leeds were playing some superb rugby league and his back five were unplayable at times.
Since Aiton and Burrow’s injuries it has been hard to maintain this form and there has been some interesting positional choices and questionable game time for some. However he has certainly changed the playing style for the better this season. Grade: B.
Top of the league after 14 games, the potential is there to be top after 27 games and progress far in the play-offs. I can’t wait for the rest of the season.
Rhinos fan for 15 years
Leeds Rhinos returned to winning ways with a comfortable 20-6 victory against a poor Hull FC side last Friday.
The Rhinos gave a debut to young hooker Robbie Ward, who celebrated with a try late on. Heavy showers put paid to a free-flowing game with both sides struggling to keep hold of the ball. Hull tried their best to slow the play down at every opportunity, but it took referee James Child until the 62nd minute to penalise them for holding down, which they had done most of the game. Brad Singleton started in the front-row in place of the injured Jamie Peacock. If 2015 is to be Peacock’s last year then I hope Brad Singleton is given the number 10 jersey. Watching him against Hull he reminds me of a young Sam Burgess, wanting to hit and smash anything that moves.
Mitch Achurch was awarded the man of the match against Hull and is starting to show just what he can do both in attack and defence. It will be interesting to see how Brian McDermott handles him when Jamie Jones-Buchanan returns from injury.
This week’s game against Warrington could be a contender for game of the season if both teams stick to playing their usual free-flowing rugby. The Wolves have been up and down all season but have showed they can turn it on when they need to, kind of like what Leeds have done in recent years.
Rhinos fan for 36 years
After the disappointment of the previous Saturday it was good to get back to a Friday night at Leeds Rhinos’ HQ of Headingley.
And it’s only taken Brian McDermott a month to figure out we need a proper 9 in at hooker!
It was a good debut from Robbie Ward and a man-of-the-match award for second row Mitch Achurch was well deserved.
Speaking about the 9 shirt, what has happened with Paul Aiton?
The club have said he will be off the field for three months due to medication he is taking, but they haven’t explained any further. I think the club should tell us what is going on with him.
Name: Matt Fowler
Rhinos fan for: 25 years
Well the Hull game was one to forget. A scrappy affair with only the highlight being another youngster rolling off the production line. Well done Robbie Ward. Tomorrow will be a much sterner test. The Wire look to be back on song so it should be a cracking game. We must start better if we want the win.
Name: Adam Anderson
Rhinos fan for: 12 years
It was tough conditions last week against Hull FC. We were very unlucky to concede in the dying seconds of the game.
It was good to see another youngster in Robbie Ward coming through the ranks and showing his potential, he didn’t look out of place and managed to get over for a try. The front-rowers definitely stood up, even without influential Jamie Peacock.
Warrington tomorrow, we beat them earlier in the season in what was quite a convincing win, but I am sure that it’ll be a different story tomorrow night as they have been gaining a bit of momentum lately.
I’m also looking forward to seeing new signing Adam Cuthbertson in the blue and amber shirt.
Name: Christine Kidd
Rhinos fan for: Over 30 years
Last Friday’s game against Hull FC was not the best of games but it was job done.Robbie Ward made an encouraging debut. A visit to the Halliwell Jones is next on the agenda. Warrington are gradually improving and Leeds will need to play better than they did last Friday to come away with a win.