LEEDS RHINOS’ nine-game winless run is over following a 34-0 thrashing of Widnes Vikings, but it wasn’t enough to save them from the middle-eights Qualifiers. Here are five talking points.
1: Performances are beginning to pick up, but Rhinos have been confirmed in the middle-eights for the second time in three years which is unacceptable for such a big club. Leeds needed favours from some of their traditional rivals and didn’t get them, but should not have been in that situation in the first place. They will finish ninth in Betfred Super League and that’s a true reflection of how they’ve performed this year. It’s nobody’s fault but their own.
2: Hooker Brad Dwyer hasn’t had much of an opportunity since joining Rhinos from Warrington Wolves last autumn, but he has started the last two games and looked the part. He was excellent against Widnes, particularly early on, breaking the line several times and scoring a remarkable try. Used in tandem with Matt Parcell, he could become a real asset if he maintains that form.
3: Eyebrows were raised when Dom Crosby was brought in on loan from Warrington Wolves, but he is just what Rhinos need - a big prop with ample top-flight experience. Not replacing Keith Galloway when he retired from top-level rugby in February was a mistake, but – late in the day – Crosby’s arrival has filled the gap. It’s also a good opportunity for him to restart his career and potentially earn a longer deal.
4: Rhinos are looking to bring a winger into the club for 2019 following Ryan Hall’s move to Sydney Roosters. Now Wakefield’s Tom Johnstone is out of the picture, after signing a contract extension until the end of 2022, North Queensland Cowboys’ Samoan international Antonio Winterstein could fit the bill.
5: The penultimate game of the regular season was the first time Rhinos have scored more than 30 points in the league this year. That highlights what a poor campaign it has been.