Key Talking points from Leeds Rhinos v Wakefield Trinity

LEEDS RHINOS were left reeling when Wakefield Trinity turned on the style to win 35-18 in the season’s first West Yorkshire derby at Emerald Headingley. Here are five talking points.

Sunday, 3rd March 2019, 9:26 am
Updated Sunday, 3rd March 2019, 9:32 am
Leeds Rhinos' Trent Merrin is tackled by Wakefield's Justin Horo and Keegan Hirst.

1: Three words sum up Rhinos’ priority for Friday’s game at Hull. Must. Defend. Better. Rhinos conceded six tries to Wakefield, which takes the total against them in five games this season to 17 and they are leaking an average of a little more than 27 points per match. That’s not good enough. There were too many gaps in Leeds’ defence – in the first half in particular – and Kyle Wood’s solo try from acting-half highlighted Rhinos’ problems. Until they sort that out, they will continue to struggle.

2: It was a step back for Rhinos after a couple of promising performances. They started well, but then fell apart and Trinity’s winning margin could have been greater. Leeds made too many errors and, yet again, conceded several unnecessary penalties including a couple for dissent. They aren’t getting the rub of the green, but their reaction made things worse.

3: Stand-in full-back Tui Lolohea provided the final pass for all four of Rhinos’ tries, but they missed the injured Jack Walker. Cameron Smith has the skills to play at stand-off, but it was a big ask in a tough game. Stevie Ward’s absense was also a blow. He is facing a layoff of up to 14 weeks following knee surgery.

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Wakefield's Danny Brough touches down for a try against Leeds Rhinos.

4: Trinity don’t get the respect they deserve. They were excellent: their gameplan worked, on attack their left-side, with Ryan Hampshire, Bill Tupou and Tom Johnstone linking to devastating effect, tore Leeds open, the forwards muscled up and when they needed to defend their goalline – for example late in the first half – they made a good job of it. They were fragile on the edges, but Rhinos coach Dave Furner was right when he said they looked as good as the more fancied sides Leeds have played this year.

5: Leeds will be relieved when Danny Brough finally hangs up his boots. The 36-year-old has tormented them throughout his career and is playing as well as ever. He is potentially the year’s best signing.

Wakefield Trinity's Kyle Wood celebrates his try against Leeds Rhinos.
Ash Handley touches down against Wakefield Trinity.