LEEDS RHINOS made it three wins in eight days and secured a place in Tuesday’s Ladbrokes Challenge Cup sixth round draw with a comfortable 64-28 defeat of Kingstone Press League One visitors Doncaster.
Here are five talking points following Rhinos’ latest victory.
1: Rhinos led 44-4 at the break, but the second half – when they conceded five tries and were out-scored 24-20 – is best forgotten from their point of view.
It was understandable and unimportant in the bigger picture. Leeds were backing up from two games over the Easter bank holiday and coach Brian McDermott gave some key players a rest and shifted others out of position once the tie was won.
But it was the second time in five days Leeds switched off after building a big half-time lead. Widnes hit back from 30-6 down at the interval to within eight points – before a couple of late Rhinos tries secured the points – and that is a bad habit to get into.
2: Around 10,000 Leeds fans didn’t turn up, but maybe the 5,000 who did will be able to say they were there when a star was born.
The strength of the opposition and nature of the game needs to be taken into account, but 17-year-old full-back Jack Walker wrote himself into the club’s history books with a debut hat-trick.
Walker will need to develop physically, but he has pace and footwork and looks an exciting prospect, though it’s a shame he plays in a position where Rhinos are strong.
3: Many supporters stayed away because they were upset at prices for the game. It was £18 on the day, a reduction of £4 on a Super League game, but a flat fee of £10 for adults and £5 concessions might have drawn a bigger crowd.
That’s something worth considering the next time Leeds draw third tier opposition – probably in about 2024.
4: One of the players given a breather in the second half was centre Kallum Watkins.
He had been ever-present – and on the field throughout – for Rhinos since the start of 2016, so definitely earned the rest.
5: McDermott said after the game Leeds will not be working on dealing with short kick-offs. They should.