Leeds Rhinos fans proud after Women's Challenge Cup final loss, worried about men's Super League prospects
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Here, our supporters’ panel reflect on that defeat by St Helens, hail one of the best individual tries seen at Wembley and look ahead to the return of Super League when Rhinos face Warrington Wolves at Headingley on Sunday.
Well, it was a game too far for our incredible women’s side who have done so well all season, but just couldn’t come up with the result on Saturday in the Women’s Challenge Cup final.
They should be incredibly proud of themselves, being the part of the first women’s final to be held at the national stadium. And what a try for Caitlin Beevers - without a doubt one of the best tries ever scored at Wembley.
I know she would trade the try and more for the Wembley win, but she and the rest of the girls can keep their heads up high and hopefully it will spur them on, like last year, to go and win the Grand Final.
As for the men, they are up against an out-of-form Warrington side as part of a triple header, with the women and reserves also in action against Wire on Sunday.
We are hoping for three victories from three, but the men need to really up their game if they want to finish this season with any positives.
Challenge Cup final weekend meant a week off for the Rhinos men, time for reflection and preparation for Warrington on Sunday.
Three losses on the bounce and dropping a league position definitely is a good time for a reset. The business end of the season is in full swing and it would be good to start picking up the points.
Wembley was where the Leeds Rhinos women were, the first Women’s Challenge Cup final staged there since the competition started in 2012. Finally, the women were at equality with the men and history was in the making. Wembley is where everyone wants to play and one of the biggest stages in rugby league.
Against St Helens, the Rhinos went 16-4 down at half-time and unfortunately finished 22-8 losers. Saints were just too strong for us, but there was a potential try of the season from Caitlin Beevers in the first three minutes of the second half. There is plenty to work on in the team and definitely lots of potential.
Back to the men’s team and this week’s game against Warrington. It’s going to be a tough game, but I do think home advantage will do us good this week. I think we are going to get the win and hopefully finish the end of the season with a bounce in our step and a winning streak to, who knows, reach the top six.
It was an early 5am set off time on the Leeds Rhinos supporters’ coach for a day out to see the women’s team make history in the first Women’s Challenge Cup final played at Wembley.
The supporters on the coach were in good spirits - considering the time - and looking forward to a Rhinos win. That wasn’t to be, unfortunately. Despite an excellent solo try by Caitlin Beevers, they were second best and St Helens were good value for the win.
Then it was on to the men’s game which turned out to be just as close as was predicted. What a team Leigh have turned out to be. I even forgave them for 1971.
On the coach home my thoughts turned to the events of the day. Firstly how do we enthuse the fans to fill Wembley?
The men’s game was a great spectacle and as a neutral I thoroughly enjoyed it, but the lack of supporters from other clubs was noticeable.
I remember the days of train specials and when every working man’s club ran a yearly coach trip that you contributed to every week.
Maybe we have too many big awayday events: Grand Final, Magic, Wembley. Maybe it’s time to drop Magic.
I also pondered the rise of the women’s game. I love women’s rugby, it’s fast, hard and full of energy and it’s proper rugby; no messing about at the rucks, they play the ball with their foot and they tackle round the legs. The men could learn so much from these ladies.
A quick thought on this week’s game against Warrington, this is a game we really should win and I think fans will really start to ask serious questions if we don’t. Warrington are not only on a losing streak, but also playing some of the worst rugby I’ve seen for a long time.
In what has been a quiet week for the men’s team, the Leeds Rhinos women made history by competing in the first Women’s Challenge Cup final to be played at Wembley.
Even though they lost, despite a fabulous solo try from Caitlin Beevers, they can be proud of their efforts in helping grow the women’s game.
Hopefully, the men can take inspiration from their female counterparts and challenge for trophies themselves before the season is over.
The other showpiece at Wembley on Saturday was a fascinating contest between Leigh and Hull KR, in what turned out to be a brilliant advert for what rugby league has to offer.
An end-to-end contest, which was won by arguably the better team in golden-point, it was one of the greatest finals of recent memory.
It was pleasing to see certain ex-Rhinos favourites, such as Ryan Hall, Matt Parcell and Tom Briscoe, have good performances and a couple of them get on the scoresheet, but begs the question why were they let go in the first place?
I know there will be reasons unknown to us why they are not at the club anymore, but they would all arguably still get into this Leeds team, especially with the injuries we have.
Looking ahead to Warrington at home on Sunday, I am not expecting much from Leeds. Reality has set in that it is probably too big a task to make the play-offs now. The hope is that we restore some pride and try and finish the season on a high. Hopefully, we see the return of Harry Newman, who will be itching to get back and make up for lost time.
Commiserations to both the Leeds ladies’ team and Batley, including Luke Hooley, in their respective cup finals and congratulations to Leigh and Hull KR for serving up a classic Challenge Cup final.
Meanwhile, at Headingley the club enters a crucial phase of the season, with recruitment for next year high on everyone’s agenda. Whilst other clubs seem to be active in the market, Leeds only have one new signing to their credit so far.
Whilst many fans are unhappy, I’m prepared to take the long view and judge them on what lines up next season, not now. Priority is two half-backs, given the departure of Blake Austin and Aidan Sezer, made all the more difficult by replacing both at once and preferably not trying to build a team on imports the wrong side of 30 years old.
Like Leeds United in the early 1970s, the failure to succession plan and slot in fresh new, young talent to replace ageing stars towards the end of the Golden Generation is an error still felt today.
In the absence of home-grown youth talent, Leeds last season did the sensible move of signing the best young players in the Championship and beyond, but success-starved fans don’t appreciate that they won’t become established players straightaway. It is an unenviable task.
Finally, we face Warrington on Sunday and also good luck to Leeds’ wheelchair team in their Cup final the same afternoon.
Another weekend off for the Rhinos and with the current state of the club it has been a pretty miserable week following our loss to Leigh.
No new signings announced before the transfer deadline pretty much confirms our season is finished and also leaves all us fans worried and questioning what is to come for next season.
It is a club with huge problems on the pitch and all the key positions to fill, with only one announcement - Mickael Goudemand - so far.
A positive for the game was last weekend's men's Challenge Cup final. Leigh and Derek Beaumont thoroughly deserve their success. Derek isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but you can’t knock the passion he has for the club. After the rebrand everyone laughed at him, however nobody is laughing now.
One thing is a must for me, the Cup final 100 per cent needs a new venue. It’s a poor look for the game, drawing less than 60,000 for the final. Clearly the biggest event in our sport has lost the fans' love and needs a change.