WITH ONLY three games remaining, Leeds Rhinos are still in relegation danger. Here are five talking points.
1: One of Rhinos’ few success stories this season has been winger Ash Handley.
His all-round game has been strong this season and a third successive brace, against St Helens, took his tally for the year to 21, moving him level with Niall Evalds as Betfred Super League’s top try scorer. Considering where Rhinos are in the table, that’s impressive.
Handley is the first Leeds player to score more than 20 tries since Ryan Hall – with 22 – in 2015.
2: Rhinos are a dangerous team when they hang on to the ball.
They scored four tries against Super League’s best defence, but a steady succession of errors meant they had too much tackling to do and eventually that took its toll.
It has been a similar story all season; Saints were very good, but Rhinos contributed to their own downfall.
3: Stevie Ward will benefit from another couple of weeks’ training before he returns from the injury he suffered at Saints in February. Ward is no longer on the casualty list, but throwing him straight in against Saints would have been a gamble.
Next opponents London play on an artificial pitch, not ideal for a player returning from two knee operations, but Ward should be ready to go by then.
4: Retiring veteran Jamie Jones-Buchanan will get a much-deserved swan song.
The 38-year-old has not played since being injured against Salford Red Devils in May. He is now fit, but isn’t being selected.
However, the Yorkshire Evening Post understands Rhinos are planning a farewell celebration at the final game of the season, at home to Warrington Wolves next month and Jones-Buchanan is set to captain the side that evening.
5: With the transfer/loan window closed, Mikolaj Oledzki has been left in the cold. Not being picked for Leeds, he hasn’t played enough games to feature on dual-reg’ at Featherstone Rovers.
Hopefully the return of reserve grade rugby next year will prevent situations like that when a fully fit player can’t get a game.