LEEDS RHINOS suffered a second successive loss in Betfred Super League when they were beaten 34-16 at Wigan Warriors. Here are five talking points.
1: Leeds played better at Wigan than they did six days earlier in the 26-6 loss at Warrington Wolves so that is progress. The same failings – errors, unnecessary penalties and a period of poor defence – let them down once again, but there were positive signs and Rhinos did enough to suggest they will be a good attacking side when they get their game together.
2: As at Warrington, a few things out of Leeds’ control went against them. That tends to happen when a team is struggling, but the boot will be on the other foot at some stage. Rhinos need to focus on what they can control, which means staying switched on defensively and being better under kicks. They played too much panic rugby at times in the second half when chasing the game, taking some wrong options in good field position, but the way they defended for each other under heavy pressure soon after the interval was impressive.
3: Captain Kallum Watkins had a tough night, though he responded well to score Leeds’ third try, but he is feeling his way back from a long layoff and major injury and isn’t going to get fit by not playing. Realistically, dual-registering an established England international with Featherstone Rovers wouldn’t be a smart option so his current situation is a good advertisement for reserve teams. Watkins is all class and will get there, sooner rather than later.
4: Brett Ferres hasn’t produced his best form for Leeds yet, largely due to injury setbacks, but he is fit now, had a full pre-season and has started well. He could be on course for a big year and elsewhere in the forwards Brad Dwyer deserves some more games in the starting line-up.
5: The departure of Josh Walters and Jack Ormondroyd opens up some space on Rhinos’ salary cap. More players may have to go, but Leeds are looking for at least one further addition to strengthen their pack.