Our panel of fans gives its verdict on Leeds Rhinos’ 2014 season.
Now that the 2014 season has come to an end for the Rhinos, we’ve all had time to get over the disappointing way in which it ended.
So then do we deem the 2014 season a success or a big failure? Any season where a trophy is won is hard to be classed as a failure but – and it is a big but, with the talent Leeds have and the players Brian McDermott has to use at his disposal – it is hard to make a case for finishing sixth in the league and exiting the play-offs at the first hurdle.
I don’t think any fan would have accepted that at the start of the season even with finally lifting the Challenge Cup.
The season that started so brightly with Leeds playing some great rugby and defending their line like their lives depended on it was great to watch. After 12 rounds Leeds were conceding less than 10 points a game on average. That is some going by any team but Leeds’ troubles have been at the other end of the field.
Leeds finished the season with only the seventh-best attack in the league and with the back line they have that’s by no means good enough.
That problem I believe has to come from coach Brian Mcdermott.
If Tom Briscoe or Ryan Hall were playing for the likes of Wigan or Warrington they would be scoring tries for fun instead of doing what the forwards should be doing and making ground in the middle.
Zak Hardaker, for me, is the best full-back in the league both in attack and especially in defence but scoring only eight tries compared to Catalan full-back Morgan Escare, who notched over 27 tries, just shows how little Zak saw the ball in attack.
Leeds have all the tools needed to be the best team in the competition but with Brian McDermott’s apparent lack of vision going forward and no real structure to their play things need to change next season, otherwise it’s just going to be the same again next season.
Gary Hetherington clearly still has faith in his coach and thinks he is the right man to lead this talented bunch of players, but Leeds’ style of play hasn’t changed under McDermott in the last couple of seasons so why should it change next season? McDermott is a defence-minded coach so if that is the case then why not bring in an assistant coach who can work with the attack side of things and get the best out of them?
These are all things Hetherington must look at over the winter period, but that’s 2014 done and finally the Challenge Cup is ours.
Has 2014 been a successful season or not for the Rhinos? Well they did win the Challenge Cup, something they have been unable to do for a long time. In doing this they produced some quality rugby. They also finished in their lowest league position for many years.
The Rhinos played two- thirds of the season having lost only four games. It was the last third of the season that the wheels fell off. In the end Leeds’ form in the league was not good enough and in the last nine games they lost too many games to lower placed teams.
It seemed that the players had put so much into winning the Challenge Cup that they found it difficult to reproduce their early season form. Even then most games were lost by six points or less. Teams have learned how to play against us and snuff out our dangerous players. We need to look at our attacking plays next year and have more options available.
A number of youngsters made their debuts this season, Robbie Ward and Josh Walters in particular look very good prospects for the future.
The Challenge Cup in the trophy cabinet, five players in the Dream Team, a nominee for the Steve Prescott Man of Steel and a young player of the year nominee. This has to be counted as a successful season. These are things that most teams supporters can only dream of. Thanks.
So we have come to another end of season for Leeds Rhinos. There have been very big highs this season, like the first Challenge Cup final win in 15 years.
Then there is the emergence of young talents like Josh Walters, Robbie Ward and a first full season for Liam Sutcliffe.
Then there have been the lows, losing to Bradford, London, Hull FC, Wakefield in final league games, then losing to Catalan Dragons in the first week of the play-offs.
There will be a lot riding on the current squad for 2015.
There will be players retiring at the end of the season, wanting to go out on a high, like Jamie Peacock and Kylie Leulaui.
A new face, Adam Cuthbertson, who had a great season in the NRL and hopefully the emergence of more talent from our youngsters, ready to show themselves.
Retaining the Challenge Cup will be a phenomenal feat for this squad, after waiting for so long for the win.
But finishing better in the league is pivotal with the new structure, as well as a guaranteed place in the World Club Series if we finish top of the league.
We are bound to have highs and lows. This club doesn’t do things the easy way, but I am looking forward to it already.
All the best to all fans and see you next season!
The best thing I can do for a season review is equate it to a very strange three-course meal.
The starter was excellent. A pleasant surprise.
It was full of all the things I like in a dish which filled me with confidence for the rest of the meal.
The main course was delicious, euphoric even, after years of waiting for such a tasty main course I couldn’t have been happier with it.
However my dessert wasn’t good.
It let down the rest of the meal badly and left a slightly bitter taste in my mouth.
I think dessert is very important and should have been a lot better.
I blame the head chef.
To sum up the season it is probably wise to look at where we started from.
The 2013 season was a trophyless campaign and the Challenge Cup losers’ medalsprevious years hung around necks like lead weights.
It is no secret that Leeds Rhinos’ ultimate goal – particular this year – was to win the Challenge Cup.
Mission accomplished as the T-Shirts say in the club shop.
Thank you for another winning memory.
There is however a ‘but’. The league campaign, especially the ending, has been well below expectation.
Sixth place and an early play-off exit has left a bad taste.
It will be a long off-season and a time to take a long, hard look at where we are heading.
League failure next season will not be an option.
With the jury coming to an end, we were asked to do a season review.
The cliché is a season of two halves, but we seemed to have had three halves (okay then, three thirds!)
We began the season on fire. Nobody could get near us, let alone score a try – amazing defence and scoring for fun out wide.
Then we went away to Saints and for what reason, I can’t fathom, Brian McDermott decided to play up-the-middle rugby, and stop passing and we lost.
That started a slide in the league and we never really got back to how we were at the start of the season.
It was great to win the Cup but it came at a very big price.