LEEDS RHINOS’ challenge this week is to repeat what they’ve managed twice already in 2017 and bounce back from a defeat.
Here are five talking points following the 25-14 loss at Warrington Wolves which ended Rhinos’ four-game hot streak.
1: Leeds got the benefit of a poor decision by the referee against Wigan in their previous match. This time a similar incident went against them when they were reduced to 16 available players in the first minute after Ben Westwood took Liam Sutcliffe out.
Following the two recent six-match bans imposed on Leeds players it will be interesting to see what happens to the Warrington man.
On a number of occasions this year players have picked up bans for incidents which weren’t punished by a red card.
Referees need to get a grip of serious foul play at the time, rather than passing the buck to the judiciary.
2: Sutcliffe failed a head test and was unable to go back on. He will have to pass the Rugby Football League’s concussion protocol or be ruled out of Friday’s trip to Hull. That’s a worry heading into Easter. Ashton Golding could be in doubt after taking a bang to a shoulder, but long-termer Keith Galloway is close to returning following his Achilles injury, which will be a major boost.
3: Matt Parcell has had a lot of game time this season, but altering a winning formula by switching him to the bench was a strange tactic by coach Brian McDermott. Parcell has settled into Rhinos and Super League particularly well and been one of their outstanding performers so far. Leeds are a better team when he is on the field.
4: Warrington’s kicking game was the big difference. Veteran Kurt Gidley and recalled youngster Declan Patton were excellent and tormented Leeds’ right-edge. Expect future opponents to employ similar tactics. It is an area of the game Leeds are lacking in.
5: Rhinos have a dire recent record at HJ Stadium. There were lessons to be learned in terms of handling a fired-up team playing in front of a hostile crowd. Leeds’ effort was good, but they could have been smarter and composure and kicking game needs to improve.