Blake Austin star man, ref grumbles and a plea to Cameron Smith: Leeds Rhinos Jury reflect on win v Catalans
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Harry Newman and Cameron Smith were two other players to impress in an outstanding team performance, though the fans’ panel were less impressed with some decisions by the match officials.
So, a Saturday afternoon against Catalans was the latest task, them having a 100 per cent record and on form.
I always enjoy a tussle of a match and it certainly didn’t disappoint. The first-half showed we had fire in our belly and it’s a shame Rhyse Martin didn’t have his kicking boots on.
The referee wasn’t the best and it certainly appeared from pitchside that the decisions he made weren’t necessarily correct.
In the second-half, Harry Newman’s early sin-bin kicked us into fifth gear and we didn’t look back; we scored 24 unanswered points and looked like a glimpse of seasons past.
We were gelling and showed some great skill and dominance. Blake Austin had one of his best games in a Rhinos shirt and the runs out of dummy-half and passes really opened up our game and it felt comfortable.
The crowd were buzzing and that, I believe, always helps the morale on the field. I hope this win gives us the kick-start we need properly now for our season.
Friday’s game at Craven Park will be an interesting one. We are on a decent run at the minute, winning three out of our last four, so let’s hope it continues.
The Good Book suggests that ‘teams cannot win by tries alone’, but Leeds certainly gave it a good go, in the sort of televised second-half demolition of Catalans that harked back to the days of Fred Dibnah, running in seven tries but converting only two.
At 22-8 down at half-time, against an unbeaten side, through a combination of comedic refereeing and defensive naivety, things didn’t look good.
But the second- half performance was almost perfect, nilling the opposition and running in five tries to reward those who’d stuck with the excellent Channel 4 coverage and helping erase the Castleford memories.
Highlights: Jarrod O’Connor Kruising past defenders for fun; Blake Austin with a performance up there with one of his best in a Leeds shirt; the ‘not just recovered-from-injury Harry Newman, but more like New-Improved-Formula Harry Newman’ and an honourable mention to Richie Myler, who was ‘forced’ twice to break and run distances that far exceed what’s laid down in his contract, while waiting for support to arrive. Richie still looks fresh and is clearly benefiting from living rent-free inside Jon Wilkin’s head.
Onwards to the enigmatic Hull K R on Friday night. Enigmatic, being the rugby league term for blowing hot and cold. Let’s hope the Robins blow colder than a breeze off the Humber.
Well, that was a game that had everything! Channel 4 must have been delighted with their choice of match at the weekend - great tries, brilliant defence, big hits and some very, very controversial decisions.
It was a superb effort, we looked like a real team and there were some great individual performances too.
Blake Austin had what must be his best performance in a Leeds shirt and Cam Smith continued his good start to the year; a forward with the hands of a half-back, but please Cam, get rid of the mullet.
Rhyse Martin also had a strong game despite one awful error and an off day with his boot. The two most pleasing things about Saturday’s performance were, one - despite things not going our way in the first-half and being on the wrong end of the score line we came back very strongly in the second-half, despite a sin-binning. In the past our heads would have gone down.
Secondly, keeping Catalans scoreless in the second-half was awesome. My moment of the game was the big hit from Zane Tetevano on Mike McMeeken on our line. I felt it in the South Stand.
Talking of the South Stand, it was one of the noisiest games I’ve been to for some time, maybe Saturday afternoon games are the way forward?
I also think the kick from Austin to Martin in the first half was real class, it’s good to see training moves come off in games. Rohan Smith must have been really chuffed.
Friday sees us travelling to Hull KR. This is a game we should win, but we’ve seen in the past that these are dangerous games for us. Putting a winning run together is something we really need and would be good for team morale.
In typical Leeds Rhinos fashion, we followed a terrible performance against Castleford with an impressive victory over the unbeaten Catalans Dragons, producing our most complete performance of the season.
Whilst the score at half-time was heavily stacked against Leeds, it wasn’t a true reflection of the game and how well we played in the first 40 minutes.
In a strong defensive display, which was let down with controversial tries given by the video referee, the Rhinos showed all the passion and fight that was missing the week before.
How the Dragons were awarded their third and fourth tries is beyond me and Leeds did well to rise above the setbacks.
The second-half performance was everything I’d want from a Leeds team and more. Even when down to 12 men, we were unstoppable and put Catalans to the sword at every opportunity.
Scoring five unanswered tries is the obvious highlight, but keeping them scoreless will do wonders for the team’s confidence.
Every player deserves a shoutout for their performance, but there were a few standout players. Blake Austin was immense and Saturday was his best game in a Rhinos shirt. Jarrod O’Connor played a terrific game as well and proved that the departure of Kruise Leeming might not be the end of the world as some are making it out to be.
Finally, having a fully fit Harry Newman is vital for Leeds to be successful this year. Two well-taken tries and 105 metres made were marred by his stint in the sin-bin and this is an area of his game which needs to be worked on.
Looking ahead to the away game at Hull KR, we are in for another tough test. The Robins have recruited well and are playing some good rugby league this season. I hope this is the week Leeds kick on, don’t let their performance levels drop and record their fourth win of the season.
Leeds just love a comeback win against Catalans, don’t they? What a performance in that second-half and to do most of the work with 12 men on the field made the victory so much better.
To score seven tries against an unbeaten Catalans side was huge for a Leeds team that have had a shaky start to the season.
Blake Austin had without doubt his best game in a Rhinos shirt, Zane Tetevano and Sam Lisone likewise. Bar the goal kicking, Rhyse Martin was also sensational. Poor Rhyse couldn’t hit a barn door, but it did not matter in the end. James Bentley will be back available this week, but I don’t think anyone deserves to be dropped after that performance.
Looking ahead to Hull KR, we need to find some momentum and put together a string of wins. The Robins broke their losing streak last week after three straight defeats. Both sides will be looking to gain momentum and I expect us to get our fourth win of the season. Hopefully Rhyse brings his kicking boots this week.
A glorious Saturday afternoon kick off with the feeling of summer rugby definitely provided a cracker.
A packed headingley crowd saw a fast start from Catalans which we responded to with two unconverted tries.
I thought we looked impressive in large parts but missed chances and costly errors saw us go into half time 22-8 down.
In the second half, with Harry Newman heading to the sin-bin, it felt like it was going to be a long afternoon for us.
However, that ignited us to put on one of the best halves of rugby I’ve seen in my time as a Rhinos fan. A sensational team performance - with the momentum provided by the crowd - just proved too much for Catalans.
There were some huge performances, from Blake Austin, Rhyse Martin and Nene Macdonald. It was the performance the team needed and the atmosphere created from such a good display was brilliant to experience.
Now we need to build on it and take the momentum into Friday’s game away at Hull KR, which always proves it is a difficult place to go.