LEEDS RHINOS moved up to second in Betfred Super League after a 50-24 win at top-four rivals Salford Red Devils. Here are five talking points from the game.
1: It was Rhinos’ best attacking performance of the season and they looked a completely different side to the one which was so poor with the ball against Castleford Tigers two weeks earlier.
Danny McGuire ran the show in the first half, when Leeds scored seven tries. His kicking and passing was spot on and he, Joel Moon, Adam Cuthbertson and Matt Parcell tore Salford apart.
Rhinos eased off in the second half, being outscored 18-14, but that was understandable in hot conditions and with a big game coming up just five days later.
2: An announcement on McGuire’s future is expected soon. At 34 he is coming to the end of his career, but The Yorkshire Evening Post understands he is keen to play on for at least one more year and has had offers from other clubs.
3: Coach Brian McDermott’s decision to select Stevie Ward out of position in the centres, with Moon remaining at stand-off and Jordan Lilley on the bench, wasn’t popular with Rhinos fans before the game. But it worked. Ward revelled in the extra space and looked completely at home. Then when Kallum Watkins was hurt, Lilley came on in the halves and Moon shifted to the three-quarters without Rhinos losing any attacking momentum.
4: Referee James Child got some decisions right, some wrong and there were some 50-50 calls – just like any game. He didn’t deserve the abuse he received or to have beer thrown at him as he left the pitch at the end. Criticism of referees is acceptable, but abuse and attacks aren’t and Salford did the right thing by issuing a statement condemning the rogue idiot’s actions and pledging a lifetime ban.
5: A top-four place at the end of the regular season – and therefore four home games in the Super-8s – is all but assured for Rhinos, who are four points clear of fifth-placed Wakefield Trinity with two rounds remaining. That’s better than predicted after ninth place last year, but expectations are rising and it’ll be a disappointment if they don’t kick on and secure at least a semi-final spot.