LEEDS RHINOS marched on in the First Utility Qualifiers with a 32-0 win over Batley Bulldogs last weekend, but it was a far from vintage performance against part-time opponents who rose to the occasion
Here are five talking points from the game.
1: The Qualifiers haven’t really revealed anything that wasn’t known already about Rhinos.
They have talented individuals and are strong defensively, but lack direction with ball in hand and find it hard to score points.
Without somebody to take control on attack, they will struggle again next year.
2: Rhinos have been doing just enough in the middle-eights, but performances have dipped since the Super League wins over Hull and Wigan Warriors.
Facing part-time opposition is a no-win situation for Rhinos, but – based on the clubs’ relative resources – Batley could be far happier about the way the game went.
Rhinos put Featherstone to the sword in their opening middle-eights fixture, but have not impressed against either London Broncos or Batley.
3: Many of Batley’s players did a full day at work before heading to the game.
They were expected to tire as the match went on, but were competitive throughout and the fact Leeds didn’t score in the last 10 minutes says a lot about their resolve.
They deserved their ovation at the end.
4: Rhinos’ fans have been remarkably loyal during what has been, despite the current eight-game winning run, a poor season.
Friday’s attendance was an incredible 15,135, by some distance the best in the British game last weekend and 2,000 more than the stadium’s capacity next year during redevelopment of the South Stand.
5: Leeds can now plan for Super League in 2017 after Huddersfield Giants’ defeat at Leigh Centurions on Saturday guaranteed their top-flight status.
The pressure is off, but Rhinos should be aiming to win their final two games – away to Huddersfield and at home against Leigh – to send them into the off-season with some momentum.