Hallelujah – back-to-back Leeds RL wins in 2016 and a first away win too!
It was nice to see that a key development in the performance at Wakefield on Friday night was the fact that Leeds got on the front foot from the first minute and, in reality, never really looked like losing.
The attacking plays were much sharper, which was reflected in the points tally.
The tactics and decision making were both spot on. I was very happy with Leeds’ choice to opt to make the most of kickable penalties. The defence was once again solid and is one hundred per cent better than what it was four weeks ago.
Better yet, we saw the return of Ryan Hall and transfer-listed Zak Hardaker. The return of Hall brought a sense of physical presence to the team and he ran strong and defended well. Hardaker put in a tidy shift on the wing, and a stint at full back for the latter stages. The team is much stronger with him than without and I have no problem with him continuing to play.
For the first time this season there is a list of stand-out performers for Leeds. Brad Singleton was once again superb and deserved his tries. Keith Galloway and Mitch Achurch keep improving, and Mitch Garbutt persists to be our human battering ram.
The forwards really have re-emerged this last three weeks. Add to that the slick attacking organised by Danny McGuire and a very strong performance from Liam Sutcliffe at full-back, who I was delighted to see kick eight goals out of eight.
After what has been a hard run with injuries and fitness, the only positive of being knocked out of the Challenge Cup is that Leeds have a week off this weekend and can return further refreshed for the visit a week on Sunday of Widnes, who we definitely owe a beating after the away fixture back in February.
The last thing I want to highlight is that, despite my desire for a long hot summer, four of Leeds’ five wins in 2016 have come in wet weather conditions, so maybe a long, wet summer might be more favourable for Leeds.
Last week Leeds secured their first back-to-back victory this year, and, for the first time, it feels like the season may finally have begun.
The best aspect of the game was Leeds’ plausible defensive effort; to let in only one try (which, on review, should have been disallowed) is commendable – especially as it was an away fixture.
Mitch Achurch should also be applauded for another good performance. Even though he is leaving the club he has raised his game recently.
This week Leeds have a break due to the Challenge Cup weekend. It may do the Rhinos good to have a week off – although it may break the momentum gathered from the previous two victories.
With strong rumours of new signings in the coming weeks, the season is looking up for Leeds and, personally, I am less worried about the Super-8s and can see light at the end of the tunnel.
Leeds’ next game is against another out-of-form team, Widnes Vikings. Again, this is the perfect opportunity to grab another win and start climbing the table.
It may prove important to move up the league in order to secure more home games once the table splits.
I will bravely predict a good performance by Leeds with lots of points being scored and a third win for Leeds in as many games.
We are on a roll! Let’s hope that the break this weekend does not halt the momentum and we can continue the confidence and winning run into the Middle-8s. We may have a new signing when we next take to the field if the rumours of an NRL hooker joining the Rhinos camp are correct.
Better again from Leeds last week, and it was good to see both Zak Hardaker and Ryan Hall back out there.
As nice as it would be to still be involved in the Challenge Cup this year, I think a week off will do wonders for us.
The break should give us time to regroup and focus on the Widnes game – they really embarrassed us back in round two so I’m sure the players will be wanting payback for that.
Plus, with any luck, we’ll have a few more of our guys back from injury to boost the team and lead us to another win.
No surprise then that I’m going to be positive and predict a Rhinos win by two scores.
Let’s get behind them again South Stand!
Another victory and a good one at Wakefield. It is a shame that we are not playing this weekend.
To concede only 12 points in 200 minutes is the biggest positive I can take from it. I don’t think we will finish in the top eight but we need to continue to build on the past two weeks.
Two wins in a row shouldn’t be something to celebrate, but this year, after all the struggles, it is.
Also, our first win outside Leeds since the grand final! Another game played in difficult weather conditions but that appears to be our saviour this season. Whether it is a coincidence that the boys are back at Kirkstall training along with the return of more senior players remains to be seen.
Gaining much-needed confidence and momentum towards the end of the season is crucial. The game against Wakefield showed significant improvements and to only concede one try was very pleasing.
On to a week off and time to rest, get some more bodies fit and focus on Widnes and continuing the winning run.