Leeds Rhinos fans pleased with win v Castleford Tigers, excited by Jack Sinfield, but glad season's over
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There were encouraging signs from some young players, but the YEP’s fans panel reckon the big win doesn’t paper over the cracks of a bitterly disappointing campaign.
Here they reflect on the win over Tigers, pick out some star performers and heap praise on a rookie referee.
What a turnaround and what a match. Considering the previous two weeks’ drubbings, the crowd was electric, the South Stand was buzzing and it was a real atmosphere.
I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I’m not sure a 46-0 win was in my mindset if I’m honest. It was like a different team on the field and they were on fire.
There was passion in the bellies and a real feeling they wanted the win. It was a young squad with a couple of debutants and there was some real skill shown on the field.
The attacking was some of the best I’ve seen all season and David Fusitu’a and Sam Walters really took the ball up and helped the rest of the team with direction and skillset.
Being the final game of the season, it helped with the disappointment we’ve felt both as fans and players and shows there are signs of potential in the team for next season. Let’s rebuild and focus in the off-season and see where we can improve ready to go again next year.
This season has flown by and in a blink of an eye it will be pre-season again. I already can’t wait for the first match and I’ve just got my season ticket sorted.
After a thoroughly disappointing campaign, the Rhinos gave us something good to take into the closed-season, allowing us to look forward to next year.
The question must be why can we play like this some weeks and so abysmally in others? This was a good performance all round, although the usual unforced errors were still there for all to see at times.
Leeds played some entertaining rugby, passing the ball around and having runners come on to the ball.
We were missing several players through injury and fielded a very young team, but there were good performances from several players.
Sam Walters showed what we will miss next year, David Fusitu’a took his tries well and young Jack Sinfield showed glimpses of the player he will become, scoring his first try for the club.
His kicking was excellent and he pushed the forwards around and controlled the game well, which is something we have been missing most of the year.
Rhyse Martin, playing yet another position, showed what an excellent signing he has proved to be. He was also spot on with his goal kicking.
Although Castleford were poor, Leeds stuck to the task and inflicted a nilling on their opponents. After the last couple of games, it was nice to be on the other side of that sort of score line.
A word must be said about the referee; they have a thankless job at times, but James Vela had an excellent game, keeping it flowing, but getting the calls right.
A good 15,000 crowd was at HQ to watch the final game of the season, showing that Leeds fans are loyal and keep up their support despite the fare offered up on the field this year falling short.
Pre-game, Friday night’s clash against Castleford at Headingley had all the excitement of waiting for root canal surgery at the dentist.
However, regardless of the sarcastic cries of ‘have a drop (goal)’ within the first few minutes, there was a palpable sigh of relief as Leeds went over for the first try. So much so that a passing aircraft suffered unexpected turbulence whilst on final approach to the airport.
Jack Sinfield must have shorts akin to Dr Who’s TARDIS, considering he had Castleford’s half-backs in his back pocket all night. As a result, panto villain ‘agent Blake Austin’ - wearing a prophetic number 46 shirt - was mostly anonymous all game.
Also, a word on new-to-Super League referee James Vella. I can’t believe I’m writing this, but THE REFEREE HAD A GOOD GAME. No unconscious bias, a good application of ALL the rules and he got the game’s major calls right. It was like a breath of fresh air.
The season hasn’t been a great one and missing out on the play-offs is a disappointment. We’re a long way from where we should be and the recruitment this coming off-season will be crucial.
Well it was nice to end the season with a victory over Castleford, but it does not justify the recent performances.
Like myself, I am sure many fans will be glad the season is over and we can look to
what will hopefully be a better 2024.
Friday’s match was probably the first time we saw Jack Sinfield play up to his potential at Super League level. The youngster still has a long way to go, but we need to see him as Jack and not the son of Kevin.
Congratulations to Alfie Edgell and Tom Nicholson-Watton on making their debut. They are very exciting talents who just need more first team experience, be that coming off the bench or going out on loan in the Championship.
A mention to Sam Walters. Despite his departure being announced mid-season, the way he conducted himself and the performances he put in for the team were outstanding. It is a huge loss to get rid of someone of his quality, but we fans should wish him well.
While it does not do much to repair the damage done by the previous two results, it’s always good to get one over on Castleford and finish the season on a slightly more positive note.
I am happy we ended the season with a big victory, however I do feel part of that comes down to the opposition we were playing. Castleford Tigers are a very poor team and we should be beating them every time we play them.
The main positive for me was seeing David Fusitu’a back scoring tries for Leeds. His hat-trick was well taken and he is such a threat when he’s on the field. If we manage to keep him fit, he would easily get over 20 tries a season and I think it’s vital for our 2024 season we kept him at the club. His injury record is obviously a concern, but hopefully his luck has changed and we can finally see the best of him next year.
I also thought Jack Sinfield had his best game in a Rhinos shirt. He has experienced two tough losses and hasn’t had an actual half-back partner in any game he has played, but it was pleasing to see this has not knocked his confidence. His well-taken try in the first half was proof of this and he also put in a delightful kick for Fusitu’a’s second.
While it is exciting to see what Jack can achieve with Leeds, it is important to remember that he isn’t his dad and to give him time to grow into his own player and not heap tons of pressure onto him before he has fully developed.