It wasn’t the defeat as such - Huddersfield Giants are a very good Super League team and as close to a play-of shoo in as any club can be at this stage in the season - but the manner in which all the previous good work appeared to unravel so readily.
With that in mind, most see the upcoming international break as a good thing for Leeds Rhinos.
Defeat at the weekend was a tough result given we were seemingly, slowly but surely, picking up a run of form.
But, it wasn’t all bad, if you ignore the result.
It was great to have Harry Newman back on the pitch following his injury, and his short stint on the pitch was fairly positive.
Cameron Smith had a good game too and, honestly, it felt like the subs tried to change the game, but it was too little to late by then.
Another player who has been regaining form recently is Ash Handley. Alongside Brad Dwyer, he has been a favourite of mine for a while now and it was good to see him get his name on the scoresheet again, despite the looming defeat.
It’ll be nine days until our next game, against St Helens, which we definitely need if we stand a chance at beating the league leaders.
Only one team has gained more points than Saints so far this season, but only three other teams have conceded more than Leeds, so let’s hope our defence is up to scratch come matchday a week on Thursday.
Going into the Huddersfield game, it felt like the side had been making huge strides forward, especially after hammering Warrington away from home.
It’s easy to get carried away with the wins and it’s easy to forget that this team is a work in progress and things won’t change overnight. But looking from the perspective of a glass half full, there are plenty of positives to be taken away.
Before the coaching change, if we had been down 22-4 at the break, a team like the Giants would have likely stuck 50-plus points on us.
Although they never really looked like getting back into the game, keeping to the scoreline competitive was about as good as could be expected against a really good Huddersfield side.
They will be real contenders come the play-offs whereas I feel Leeds ,realistically, might just scrape their way into the top six.
If they had won, the international break would have come at the wrong time - breaking up the winning momentum - but the break will be welcome to rally the team before a tough trip over to Saints.
The defeat at Huddersfield last Friday shows how far Leeds have come in recent weeks and how far there is to go before the team becomes a contender once again.
The Giants are farther along that road and perhaps deserve their place at or about the game’s top table. This week is another blank week for Leeds with the international weekend looming. Part of the reason for the gulf between European and Australian Rugby League is the lack of representative football played here and last week also saw the first State of Origin clash played Down Under.
I’d advocate a ‘Magic style’ representative weekend, with perhaps a Great Britain/England Test Match at the pinnacle, but also below that a County of Origin game and even representative matches for the Championship and League One players too. You could also throw in games for the other ‘home nations’ such as Wales or Ireland, as well as an involvement of the French team.
Rugby Union has a strong international game and you can find out where England (Cricket) may be playing for many years to come.
Sadly, beyond the World Cup this autumn, I have no idea when or where international rugby league might be occurring.
That’s something that the game needs to address urgently with a proper international schedule.
And let normality resume.
It really is so frustrating watching this Rhinos team play out of their skins one week, but then look absolutely diabolical the next. It must be even more frustrating as a player.
A few of the more senior players really did get a grilling on the pitch and on social media.I think a lot of fans are losing their patience with some players taking what they have for granted.
I never thought we’d look any different without Kruise Leeming but Friday proved we need him more than we think.
Another week off which I personally think can only be a good thing.
Two weeks to prepare for Saints is exactly what the Rhinos need. I hope Rohan Smith has something up his sleeve for Saints because, if they play like they did last Friday, it will be another long night.
Being in the situation where you ask ‘which Rhinos team fancies turning up?’ is not good.
It was great to see Harry Newman back out there, though.
I reckon Rhinos season would be looking completely different had he been available for the full duration.
The Giants showed Leeds are not yet ready to mix it with the big boys at the top table.
It was a commanding performance from Huddersfield who opened up with four unanswered tries. The gap was just too big - 22-4 - at half-time for Leeds to recover. The Loiners did sprinkle their own magic with tries for Ash Handley, Liam Sutcliffe and Zak Hardaker but we are a different class without Kruise Leeming and missed his probing runs sorely.
Rohan Smith needs time to change Rhinos’ DNA and must add more quality to this squad before we’ll be capable of competing with the top sides again.
I was delighted to finally see the return of Harry Newman; it was great to have him come through unscathed. And he should thrive under the new system once back to full fitness.
It’s another week off for Super League with international rugby back. It will be exciting to see England compete and, hopefully, lay down a marker ahead of the World Cup.
The Blue and Amber have the Saints next when we need to demonstrate how far we have come from those early weeks ‘on the road to nowhere’.
Friday night just showed us how far away we are from getting anywhere near the play-off positions.
Early doors, Huddersfield were attacking from all over, particularly from the wings on both sides.
And both Rhios wingers, Ash Handley and Dave Fusitu’a, were letting them walk through. This needs to be improved or else we’ll end up getting a hammering by St Helens next time out.
We definitely missed Kruise Leeming as it was obvious that he brings the team together when it comes to the attack. The single positive from the game was that, in the second half, we allowed Huddersfield to score only one soft try.
Looking ahead at this weekend as England take on the All-Stars, questions need to be asked as to why it’s in Warrington again.
Last season, it was in Warrington; shouldn’t it this time be at a Yorkshire club instead of the other side of the Pennines?
I understand Headingley is out of commission, but Huddersfield’s John Smith’s Stadium is an obvious alternative.
Anyway, good luck to England who should, hopefully, come away victorious this time around.