Leeds Rhinos v Huddersfield Giants: We’re on the right track says Jamie Jones-Buchanan

Interim-boss Jamie Jones-Buchanan says he has seen some improved signs from his Leeds Rhinos side in practice for tomorrow’s visit of Huddersfield Giants.

By Peter Smith
Wednesday, 13th April 2022, 4:45 pm

Rhinos have lost both their games since Richard Agar resigned at the end of last month, but haven’t played for 12 days. After six defeats in the opening seven Betfred Super League rounds, Rhinos are second from bottom in the table at the start of a crucial period of three games in nine days.

Wins tomorrow, at Castleford Tigers on Monday and against visitors Toulouse Olympique a week on Friday could transform Rhinos’ season and Jones-Buchanan insisted: “We understand the importance of every game.”

He said: “I know this is a period when people are talking about a lot of games in a short space of time and things can turn around very quickly, but ultimately we have just got to keep focused on what’s happening each day and making sure our application and execution is right.

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Leeds Rhinos interim coach Jamie Jones-Buchanan. Picture: Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com.

“Away from training we are all doing the right things.

“We are being professional, we are looking after each other and we are doing it together.

“That will increase our chances of performing well and challenging our opposition.

“It is really important we perform well and I still absolutely believe we have got all the tools in the box and we have a good team inside the changing rooms.

Leeds Rhinos interim head coach Jamie Jones-Buchanan in training. Picture: Phil Daly/Leeds Rhinos/SWpix.com.

“We just need to find that as a unit.

“We are in better mood and I believe we are going forward and making steps.”

Rhinos have not scored in the first half of their last three home games and managed just 90 points in the league so far, an average of 12.8 per game.

Without the 34 points they scored in their only win, at Wakefield Trinity, that comes down to just 9.3, but Jones-Buchanan reckons his men need to get their defence right first and improve attack will follow.

“Defence wins games,” he said.

“It is a cliche, but it’s true.

“I thought we repelled quite a lot of quality offense from St Helens [in their most recent game, two weeks ago].

“I enjoyed some of our effort, application and desire and there was enough in there against Saints to grasp hold of and build on.

“Offensively, for a Leeds side we have not scored anywhere near as many points as we could or should, but first things first; we need to get our D [defence] right and our application and then we’ll start looking at what it looks like scoring points.”

Jones-Buchanan believes lack of confidence, stemming from poor results, has led to some panic rugby.

“We have over-played our hand at times, when we’ve looked desperate and lacked control, composure and trust,” he added.

“In time, as we execute better on the training field and start to make line breaks and tackle busts, that confidence will come back and people will start feeling like they are in the zone and that’s when it flows.”

Giants, whose squad includes former Rhinos players Tui Lolohea, Ashton Golding and Owen Trout, have lost only two of their first seven league games and will meet Hull KR in a Betfred Challenge Cup semi-final at Elland Road next month.

“I think they have been outstanding,” Jones-Buchanan said of tonight’s visitors.

“I think as a team they’ve been overlooked, I don’t think people have talked enough about Giants this year.

“Watto [coach Ian Watson] has put together quite a diverse jigsaw puzzle and it has been impressive how quickly they’ve come together.”

The Leeds boss pin-pointed second-rower Chris McQueen and hooker Danny Levi as two of Huddersfield’s biggest threats.

“They look like they are creating their own luck, they are executing some high-risk plays and getting some high rewards for it,” Jones-Buchanan said.

“It is high alert for us, we know we need to be good, we need to move quick and to have some desire and effort about our performance, otherwise Huddersfield are a team that can really hurt you.”