LEEDS RHINOS’ resurgence continued when they won 28-12 at Huddersfield Giants.
Their third successive win lifted them up the table and only points difference is keeping them off top spot in Betfred Super League.
Here are five talking points from Rhinos’ latest game.
1: If Brian McDermott was given four weeks to save his job following the record defeat at Castleford Tigers, it is probably mission accomplished.
Three wins was a realistic target and has been achieved with Friday’s visit of Wigan Warriors still to come.
The players deserve credit for their response to the disaster at the Jungle, but if a coach is blamed when things go wrong he should be praised for the good times. McDermott’s position is surely safe now, in the short-term at least, but the debate over whether Rhinos need a new voice going forward after this season will continue.
2: Whatever may have been said in pre-season about contending for honours, Rhinos’ initial target this year had to be qualifying for the Super-8s.
That is not achieved yet, but 20 points should do it and Rhinos are half way there with 16 games still to play so it will take a spectacular collapse for them to miss out. Once that is in the bag they can start to think about the top-four, which seemed very unlikely three weeks ago, but should be within reach given the unpredictable nature of the competition.
3: Rhinos’ squad depth was, rightly, questioned following the loss at Castleford.
Those concerns remain, but credit has to go to some fringe players who have stepped up in the last few weeks. Jordan Baldwinson’s exclusion last year was a mystery, but he has made three successive starts and done a solid job, including his first Super League try last Friday. Big Anthony Mullally has also made an impact and, after a tough time last year, is looking like a shrewd acquisition.
4: Jimmy Keinhorst suffered a knee injury at Huddersfield and it will be a big blow if he faces a spell on the sidelines. He has been outstanding this year.
5: Carl Ablett was unlucky to be sin-binned against Huddersfield. Being punched surely isn’t a yellow card offence.