The YEP’s Leeds Rhinos Jury look back at the win over Salford and ahead to tomorrow’s Super 8s clash with Huddersfield - the last match before the semi-finals.
It wasn’t until I checked the scoreboard with five minutes to go I realised that Leeds were 44-2 up, so the most impressive thing for me was how we managed to be so dominant and comfortable without actually being particularly impressive.
The Rhinos were clinical in attack, with a number of well worked tries scored on the night, and backed that up with a solid defence.
Salford were a long way from the dangerous outfit we saw for most of the regular season and hadn’t anything to play for but pride.
But keeping them try-less did take a lot of effort and determination as the Red Devils applied a good amount of pressure on the defence close to the Leeds tryline.
Tightening up in defence at this stage of the season will be pivotal to any potential success we have.
The win was a confidence boost after the Castleford defeat, and following it up with another two points at Huddersfield tomorrow would bring about plenty of positivity ahead of the season defining semi-final.
After a spectacular win at home, Leeds have pushed the Salford Red Devils out of the running for the play-offs.
After ending last year in the million pound game they can be happy with the big improvement they’ve had over the year, even if it was Leeds’ eight tries that stopped them from taking it further.
The Rhinos team showed their try-scoring prowess whilst also keeping their line intact, just conceding two pesky points
Another team who will be happy with their placing compared to last year’s, are this week’s opponents Huddersfield Giants.
While they may be well out the running for the play-offs, they’ll be hoping to end their season with a win and have over the years, been a bit of a bogey side for the Rhinos who will need to be on their guard against Rick Stone’s men.
After a slow end to the season, Leeds have strong chance of earning those final two points up for grabs.
If the team that turned up against the Red Devils is there on the day again, then they will surely have the game in the bag, ahead of the semis.
Last Friday was just about the perfect evening.
It was a strange feeling I had about the Salford game because as much as I wanted the win and a good performance I also was wary off picking up a few injuries at what is now a critical point of the year.
As it panned out I needn’t have worried as we put in a great 80-minute performance, looking sharp in attack with the ball being moved about, but for me the best part was our desire in defence to keep Salford tryless.
Our defence is going to be key come the semi-final and hopefully beyond.
One fella I’d like to pick out for extra praise was big Anthony Mullally.
I must admit I wasn’t his biggest fan, but this season he has really had a good year and is now a big threat carrying the ball. Keep it up big fella.
Fingers crossed we now go to Mullally’s old club, Huddersfield Giants, finish off the Super 8s with a win and more importantly, no injuries and await to see who we play in the semi-finals.
The excitement isn’t building, the tension isn’t palpable, but we are 80 minutes away from being 80 minutes away from what I would consider a miraculous Grand Final appearance.
Friday’s dead rubber against Salford Red Devils saw 40 minutes of dreadfully uninspiring rugby league, followed by 40 minutes of slightly more exciting play against a Salford team who looked already on the beach.
I imagine this week’s game against Huddersfield will be similar, so why am I so under-enthused?
Well I think there are a number of issues which are causing me concern, but the biggest factor is the lack of entertainment I feel is coming from Leeds this season.
It’s not new, it’s Brian McDermott’s style, but the five drives and a kick interspersed with the odd Cuthbertson offload or Parcell darting from acting-half doesn’t cut it for me.
Greg Eden at Cas has scored more than double the tries our wingers have combined. Ours just don’t see the ball in attacking positions.
I guess I’m just a bit bored.
I’m delighted to report after last week’s encounter with Salford, at least one team managed to make it off the bus for the contest.
Other than a solitary early penalty goal, the lacklustre Red Devils were left somewhat red-faced.
In their last regular home appearance together, Danny McGuire and Rob Burrow rolled back the years for one last time and combined for a trademark spectacular long-range try.
The other contribution of note was Australian hooker Matt Parcell’s mid-game introduction against a tiring opposition, running in a couple of tries in quick succession to push the game beyond any reasonable doubt.
He’s been my stand out player all season and is truly a Parcell Force.
Next up is Huddersfield Giants in what is essentially a break for the fans queuing for next week’s tickets.
Leeds need a good solid performance going into the semi-final, against a team that in recent years has proved to be a bit ‘bogey side’ even when the pressure is off. Let’s hope they respond.
One of the pleasing things about the convincing victory over Salford Red Devils last week was the defence.
Leeds have only conceded one try in 120 minutes, taking into account the second half of the Cas’ game; it would be nice to think that this determination could be carried over into the next few matches.
Having Rob Burrow on the field for the whole game seemingly added a new dimension to the Leeds offensive game.
The lead up to the Danny McGuire try was like Leeds Rhinos of old, backing up the player in possession and creating mayhem in the opposing defence.
With some important games to come, Burrow’s experience and creativity will be invaluable if Leeds are to make the Grand Final.
It’s Huddersfield Giants next, in what is realistically a “nothing” game for both of the clubs.
It would be expected for a couple of players to be rested, but hopefully not to the extent that we experienced in the Wigan game prior to the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup semi-final at Doncaster.
We all know how that turned out, don’t we?