HAVE YOU got your breath back yet? Leeds Rhinos’ 25-24 defeat by Castleford Tigers at Elland Road – after they had trailed 24-0 in as many minutes – was one of the most remarkable games played in Betfred Super League.
Here are five talking points from the match.
1: It is galling to lose after scoring more tries than the opposition and raises concerns over goal kicking. Kallum Watkins, who has been arguably Leeds’ best player this year, landed only two of five kicks after two from four against Warrington, none from one at Melbourne, one from one against Widnes, two from four against Hull and three from four in the win over St Helens.However, he kicked at 83.6 per cent in the league last year (51 from 61), which is slightly better than Tigers’ Luke Gale (135 from 163, 82.82 per cent). Jordan Lilley, Rhinos’ best kicker, is not getting in the team. No coach would pick a player simply on his place kicking, but if Rhinos could find a goal-kicking forward to replace departed prop Keith Galloway that would be ideal.
2: Tigers would have blown most sides away in the opening quarter. From the first whistle they were faster and more physical than Leeds, their kicking game was spot-on and they moved the ball in outstanding style. However, they could not maintain it and when they are below their best Leeds can match and out-play them. Rhinos have lost nine of the sides’ last 10 derbies, but won four of the past five halves and will fancy their chances if the teams meet in another big game.
3: Ash Handley had a tough start, but was outstanding in Rhinos’ fightback, scoring two tries and providing the final pass for Ryan Hall’s touchdown. He is a decent winger, but looks a better centre.
4: Jack Walker needs to start at full-back. Leeds were better when he came off the bench and Ashton Golding did an excellent job taking over from Matt Parcell at acting-half.
5: Mikolaj Oledzki has been playing rugby league for five years. On the evidence of the last two games, he has a huge future.