LEEDS RHINOS’ eight-game losing run is over, but they look set to finish the season in the Qualifiers following a 20-20 draw with Wakefield Trinity – here are five talking points.
1: The stalemate suited Trinity more than Leeds. They climbed to sixth in Betfred Super League and one point from their final two games – at home to Hull and away against Huddersfield Giants – will secure a top-eight spot due to their better for and against record. Rhinos need two wins and even that won’t be enough if Huddersfield (at Castleford Tigers), Catalans Dragons (home to Salford) and Trinity all win this weekend. It’s a desperate situation for Leeds, but the table doesn’t lie and they are where they deserve to be at this stage.
2: Rhinos let things drift for too long, but positive changes are being made. Director of rugby Kevin Sinfield is looking to bring players in – hooker Paul Aiton and prop Dom Crosby being top of his list – and has already added some structure to the team, as well as boosting spirit in the camp. It probably won’t be enough to keep Rhinos out of the relegation battle, but there are some encouraging signs ahead of what will be a tough campaign in the middle-eights.
3: Trinity showed tremendous spirit to wipe out an eight-point deficit in the final 10 minutes. Hooker Kyle Wood made a huge impact off the bench including scoring the reviving touchdown. That would probably have been chalked off if it had gone to video referee Ben Thaler as no try, but Leeds should have been able to hang on. They’ve led late in three of their last five games and not claimed victory in any of them. Once they remember how to win matches they should be okay.
4: Carl Ablett captained Leeds against Wakefield and is part of a new five-man leadership group. He is out of contract at the end of the year and had been considering emigrating to Australia, but Sinfield’s appointment may have prompted a change of mind.
5: Bill Tupou’s superb long-range try for Trinity continued his impressive recent form. He must be a dark horse for one of the Dream Team centre spots.