IT’S ONE down, six to go after Leeds Rhinos began their Betfred Qualifiers campaign with a 48-22 home win over Toulouse Olympique. Here are five talking points.
1: At this stage it doesn’t really matter how the job gets done as long as it gets done, but Rhinos will need to improve to ensure Super League safety. They played well in spells, but the 10 minutes before half-time – when a healthy 16-point lead was transformed into a nervous four-point one – highlighted why they are in this mess.
2: If it wasn’t for bad luck, Stevie Ward would have none at all. He was set to return from concussion against Toulouse, but was ill in the week and missed out again. Ward is now aiming to make his comeback at London Broncos on Sunday and don’t be surprised to see him playing at stand-off at some stage. The experiment of using an extra forward worked well enough against Toulouse.
3: He needs to be more consistent, but when he is Brad Dwyer will be a real asset for Rhinos. His dynamic, two-try performance was at the heart of Rhinos’ win and he is proving he should have been given more opportunities earlier in the year.
4: Toulouse play-maker Johnathon Ford is too good for the Championship. He can run a game and split defences with his passing game. If Rhinos are looking for a stand-off he’d be worth a dabble. Toulouse are at a similar stage to London two years ago, not ready for Super League, but heading in the right direction.
5: Thoughts are with the friends and family of Rhinos fan Raymond Greenfield who died after collapsing before Saturday’s game. Fellow supporters are crowdfunding (at justgiving.com) for a floral tribute at his funeral and anything extra will go to his family or a charity of their choice.