Areas of improvement: Here's what Leeds Rhinos have done better since Rohan Smith became coach

It was clear from last week’s big win over Wigan Warriors that Leeds Rhinos have improved in their nine games since Rohan Smith took over as coach in May.

Relegation is still a mathematical possibility, but Rhinos have a seven-point cushion over the bottom two, so are effectively safe.

And the play-offs are now very much on the cards..

Rhinos face a tough game this weekend, at Catalans Dragons, but so do the three sides one point above them, Hull (at Toulouse Olympique), Hull KR at Wigan) and Salford Red Devils (home to St Helens).

Muizz Mustapha's late try against Wigan, converted by Rhyse Martin, took the number of points scored by Rhinos under Rohan Smith to 244. Picture by Jonathan Gawthorpe

If Leeds can win in France, there’s a real chance they could be sixth in the table by Sunday afternoon.

The outlook is much brighter now than two months ago, but in which areas are Leeds getting better?

Here are some comparisons between the situation Leeds were in after 11 rounds and where they are now, with 20 of the 27-game league season completed.

The table:

Rhinos, led by Brad Dwyer, celebrate the win over Wigan, their fifth in nine games under Rohan Smith. Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com.

After 11 rounds, Rhinos were ninth in the table, five points outside the top six.

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They are now…ninth, but the gap between them and the play-off places is down to one point.

Results:

Rhinos coach Rohan Smith. Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com.

Rhinos were beginning to make progress under interim-coach Jamie Jones-Buchanan, having won two and drawn one of his five league games in charge.

That’s a win rate of 40 per cent, though including the Challenge Cup defeat by Castleford Tigers, it comes down to 33.3 per cent.

Before Richard Agar resigned, Leeds had lost five of their opening six matches - just a 16.67 per cent success rate.

The 42-12 victory over Wigan Warriors last week was Smith’s fifth, with four defeats.

That’s a winning percentage of 55.56.

Attack:

Notoriously, Rhinos were Super League’s lowest scorers before Smith moved into the hot seat, having managed a miserable 161 points, at an average of 14.63.

After nine games under Smith, Rhinos’ points for is now 405, which is joint-sixth in the competition.

Leeds have scored 244 points with Smith as coach and over the last nine matches, only Wigan (282) and Salford (261) have managed more.

Their overall average points per game is now 20.25 and under Smith it is 27.11.

Defence:

Rhinos had the ninth best defence in Super League after 11 rounds, having conceded 217 points at an average of 24.11.

Going into round 21, Leeds have conceded 390 points, which is the fewest of any team outside the top four and an overall average of 19.5.

Over the last nine league matches, Leeds’ defence - having conceded 173 points, at an average of 19.22 - has been the fourth best in the competition, behind St Helens (114), Huddersfield Giants (160) and Catalans Dragons (161).

Points difference:

That has improved from minus 56 when Smith took over to plus 15 now.

The 71 they have gained over the past nine matches is the fourth best in Super League, behind Wigan (105), Saints (94) and Salford (85).

The table under Smith:

If Smith’s first match - a 23-8 loss at Salford on May 15 - had been round one, Rhinos would be sixth in the table, behind Saints, Salford, Huddersfield Giants, Castleford Tigers and Wigan, but above Toulouse Olympique, Hull KR, Warrington Wolves, Hull and Wakefield Trinity.