Our YEP Jury look back at Leeds Rhinos’ derby defeat at Castleford and ahead to the home game with Catalans Dragons.
If you consult the dusty mega-volumes that form the Oxford English Dictionary and look up the word ‘capitulation’, there isn’t the traditional written definition, instead there is an endless video loop of Leeds Rhinos’ shocking performance at Castleford Tigers last week.
The farce was, frankly, the sort of display that we all knew Leeds might produce sometime soon and suspect that it may well be another sizeable crack in the fragile Brian McDermott tenure at Leeds.
Ah! What about the treble? What about all the silverware he’s won and, surely, you can’t demand someone’s head on the basis of one abysmal performance, I hear you cry …
It could be argued that Brian McDermott has been the luckiest coach in Loiner history, riding on the back of the best squad ever assembled in blue and amber.
Clever manipulation of the play-off system to win trophies also papered over the cracks of mediocre league form.
The mark of a decent coach is that they improve their squad and produce a team that exceeds the sum of its parts, something that Daryl Powell seems to be doing at Castleford Tigers.
However, I struggle to think of a player that has massively improved under McDermott’s coaching reign.
Fans were mostly patient last season, stomaching various excuses for the shocking league form leading to the middle-8s.
But there can be no reasonable justification for last week’s abject failure against our neighbours.
Should there be a similar gutless surrender/thrashing against Catalans Dragons – or anytime soon – then McDermott might be facing his own imminent Waterloo.
Following the horror that was the Castleford game, all associated with the club (especially the thousands of loyal fans) are asking, what now?
Various excuses have been bandied about. Yes, we were without six first-choice, experienced forwards, but no team in Super League should concede 12 tries in a match. It was still 13 versus 13; you don’t have to be an international to be able to tackle!
Whilst Castleford were good and would probably have won no matter who played against them, they had it easy. No pressure on them; they didn’t really have to work hard to score.
Leeds, meanwhile, were like a ship without a rudder, drifting aimlessly around the pitch with no real leadership or inspiration from the remaining senior players. The youngsters tried their best but were found lacking on the day.
It has certainly brought home the fact that the first-team squad, once you get into numbers 20-plus, are, with the odd exception, not yet Super-League standard. There is, of course, no quick fix, no magic wand which will make the team competitive again.
In truth, we have an ageing squad which despite opportunities to do so, has not been strengthened over the close season. Promoting academy players is fine if you like playing in the Middle-8s!
I think the drubbing at Castleford was the final straw for a lot of Leeds fans judging by the post-match reaction. It was for me too.
The result highlighted that no progress has been made from 2016 when it comes to challenging the top sides in the league, and when things do get tough during those matches, the players and coaches have no answers. When you partner that with the fact Rhinos have been unconvincing against the ‘lesser’ teams and were somewhat fortunate to beat both Leigh and Salford, it tells me something needs to change.
In the next six weeks, as hard as it will be, the club needs a run of good performances and results to bring back some positivity, otherwise we could see the end of the Brian McDermott era.
It’s safe to say ‘everyone and their uncle’ has an opinion on last week’s game.
We could nitpick all day, or we could look forward to this week’s game.
We face a Catalans team who are on a good run of wins but lack a home advantage. We need to believe in our team!
Well what a shambolic display it was from Leeds Rhinos last week.
To be fair to Castleford Tigers they were brilliant and took every opportunity we gave them to attack and score points.
But the worrying thing for me was how many one-on-one tackles were missed leading to tries.
Enough of that, and on to the match against Catalans Dragons tomorrow night and then the derby with Wakefield Trinity the week after. For me, these next two games are huge. If we can find a way to win them both then it will be a positive start and will give us something to build on.
I’m hoping to see a couple of guys back and a passionate, wholehearted Leeds display. #MOT.