LEEDS RHINOS got off the mark in Betfred Super League with a tense 17-14 win at promoted Leigh Centurions.
Here are five talking points from a victory which was a much closer call for Rhinos than it should have been after they led 17-8 with 12 minutes to go.
1: Damned if they do and damned if they don’t. In round one Leeds were criticised for not taking the two from a couple of kickable penalties. Leading 15-8 at Leigh they initially turned down a possible penalty goal, then – when Centurions were down to 12 men with a player in the sin-bin – did opt to kick.
They should probably have taken the first penalty, but not the second which ran down the sin-bin clock and gave Leigh a breather when they looked on the rack. That said, the extra two points meant Leigh had to go for a try in the final stages, rather than being able to salvage something with a drop goal or penalty.
2: Jimmy Keinhorst is hugely under-rated. A union convert, he didn’t start playing league until at university so isn’t steeped in the game, but has natural talent and a rugby brain. He took his try well and his tackle on Atelea Vea, aided by Ryan Hall, late on at Leigh could prove a big moment in Rhinos’ season.
3: It was good to see Danny McGuire back in action after his recent injury woes. He didn’t have a major impact on the game, but the key thing for him was getting through unscathed. He will be better for an hour’s action under his belt and will improve as he regains match-sharpness, which is a big boost for attack-shy Rhinos.
4: Once again – and this may be a recurring theme this year – Rhinos’ defence was solid and they scrambled superbly at times, but on attack they don’t carry enough threat. McGuire’s return and Matt Parcell’s growing status in the team will help, but until they develop a cutting edge they are unlikely to trouble the best sides.
5: Handing 20-year-old rookie Ashton Golding the No 1 jersey was a gamble, but so far it is paying off. Golding was Leeds’ best player in the round one loss at St Helens and had another fine match as last line of defence against Leigh. He is brave, tactically smart and his running game will improve as conditions do.