Leeds Rhinos: What's on boss Richard Agar's agenda this week ahead of Super League showdown at St Helens
The next two weeks will make or break Leeds Rhinos’ season.
Rhinos remain fifth in Betfred Super League after their epic extra-time win over Hull at the Dacia Magic Weekend, but the job is not done yet.
Hull now seem to be out of the running, but with two rounds remaining in the regular campaign, Leeds are among four teams battling for the final three play-offs spots.
Here’s what could be on coach Richard Agar’s agenda ahead of Friday’s game at St Helens.
1: Maths. Ryan Hall, Hull KR’s ex-Leeds winger, could probably work it all out in his head, but it’s calculator time for everyone else. At best, if they win their two remaining games and Wigan suffer successive defeats, Rhinos could still finish fourth. Two losses would leave Rhinos with a winning record of 50 per cent, but the two teams immediately below them, Castleford Tigers and Hull KR, meet on Saturday. Leeds want Tigers to win that one because then, even if Hull KR win at Headingley in the final round, they can only get to 50 per cent and, at the moment, Rhinos have a better point difference.
2: The bottom line. One more win will secure Leeds’ top-six finish. If they lose both their remaining fixtures, Hull KR also beat Castleford this weekend and Tigers win at home to Warrington in the final round, Leeds are out. A win each for Cas and Hull KR would only eliminate Rhinos if they suffer two defeats heavy enough to wipe away their points difference advantage over the Robins.
3: Eggs in one basket. Does Agar decide to throw everything at Saints this week, or rest people for the clash with Hull KR? Rhinos’ casualty list doesn’t leave him with much room for changes and it will take a special effort for an already under-strength lineup to win at TW Stadium, but Leeds did go close in the Challenge Cup earlier this season and can’t afford a battering which would damage their points difference.
4: Half-back, yet again. Agar’s hopes of holding back super-sub Brad Dwyer last week were dashed when Rob Lui was hurt and Kruise Leeming had to shift into the halves. Leeming and Richie Myler seem the obvious combination this week, but then Dwyer would have to start and potentially play 80 minutes, though Jarrod O’Connor could come in as interchange-hooker. Forwards Rhyse Martin and Cameron Smith are the other half-back options.
5: Game management. It let them down in the one-point losses to Huddersfield and Warrington, when Rhinos allowed a late lead to drift away. Against Hull, in what was an incredibly frantic finale, they looked much more composed and the way they kept Marc Sneyd and Jake Connor out of drop goal range in the latter stages of the 80 and extra-time showed lessons have been learned.
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