Talking points from Leeds Rhinos' derby victory at Wakefield Trinity
LEEDS RHINOS ended Wakefield Trinity's seven-game winning streak with a hard-fought 18-16 success at Beaumont Legal Stadium, Belle Vue.
Here are five talking points from the first of three successive West Yorkshire derbies for Rhinos.
1: It was a huge two points for Rhinos and the top-four is beginning to look like a five-horse race.
Wakefield, who dropped to fifth, are still well in it, particularly as there are signs of Salford beginning to struggle. Hull – now fourth, a point behind Leeds – are inconsistent, but Rhinos have a seven-point gap over sixth-placed St Helens and that is a healthy cushion at this stage.
2: Leeds’ kicking game, which is often criticised, was very good and caused Wakefield problems, but they can and need to get better on attack.
Their four tries came in two back-to-back spells and other than that they failed to take a string of chances. The fact they are creating opportunities is encouraging, but they need to be more clinical. That should come if they can keep what is now almost a full-strength back division fit and available. An injury to Joel Moon would be a huge setback though.
3: Trinity have come a long way since the Million Pound Game in 2015, staged a week before Rhinos completed the treble at Old Trafford.
Seven straight victories is good going by any standards and they have already secured a place in the Super-8s. Wakefield have some key players to come back for the business end of the season and they would undoubtedly have swapped a win against Leeds for one at Salford in Thursday’s Ladbrokes Challenge Cup semi-final.
4: Phil Bentham awarded 13 penalties, exactly half as many as there were in Leeds’ previous game. That made it much better to watch. There was a doubt over at least a couple of the tries, but Bentham did a good job overall and at the moment is probably Super League’s most in-form whistler.
5: That said, it was far from a classic. There were too many errors, many of which looked to be due to fatigue. Both teams looked tired and clearly the effects of three games in a week are going to be felt for some time.