Key talking points from Leeds Rhinos’ defeat at Salford Red Devils

Leeds Rhinos new signing Ava Seumanufagai.
Leeds Rhinos new signing Ava Seumanufagai.
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IT IS a familiar story for Leeds Rhinos as they begin a week of trying to put things right following yet another defeat. Here are five talking points from the 28-16 loss at Salford Red Devils.

Here are five talking points from the 28-16 loss at Salford Red Devils.

Ash Handley scores against Salford Red Devils.

Ash Handley scores against Salford Red Devils.

1: Same old, same old. Every now and then Rhinos win a game and look, for at least 40 minutes, like a good team, but then reality sets in. The Salford defeat was similar to the recent debacle at Wakefield Trinity: Leeds made a poor start, forced their way back into the game before the break, fell away in the third quarter and only started playing when it was too late.

There was not much in it in the first half, but Salford were by far the better team after the break and it is a long time since Leeds had a good second half. After 14 rounds there should be signs of consistent improvement, but that’s not happening.

2: Going more than a year without back-to-back wins in Betfred Super League is unacceptable for a club of Leeds’ stature. The players have shown they can play – they were excellent in the first 40 against both Huddersfield Giants and Hull KR – but their inability to string successive good performances, or even halves, together is a sign of a team lacking confidence and mental toughness.

3: Ava Seumanufagai’s debut was a positive. Though still heavily jetlagged – he had been awake since 3am – he got stuck in, made some strong carries and injected size and enthusiasm to the pack. It’s very early days, but he looks a good addition.

Cameron Smith on the charge against Salford Red Devils.

Cameron Smith on the charge against Salford Red Devils.

4: Cameron Smith’s clever kick to set up a consolation try for Ash Handley was a rare good moment for Rhinos.

Smith also tackled well and has made a strong return from injury. The talented 20-year-old is the future for Rhinos and should keep his place even when more experienced players return from injury. As with Harry Newman, he might make mistakes, but there will be long-term benefits.

5: If Rhinos didn’t bother with anything else but spent an entire week’s training working on how to defend acting-half scoots close to their line they would certainly concede fewer tries.

Harry Newman touches down against Salford Red Devils.

Harry Newman touches down against Salford Red Devils.

Ava Seumanufagai takes on the Salford Red Devils defence.

Ava Seumanufagai takes on the Salford Red Devils defence.