Our YEP Jury look back at the Magic Weekend and assess Leeds Rhinos’ display against Castleford Tigers.
Year after year, the Magic Weekend brings highs and lows to the game of rugby league. And 2017 was no different.
We saw a spectacular showcasing of the sport over the last weekend.
If you were lucky enough to make it up to Newcastle you would agree that, even if individual teams didn’t win, the event is bigger and better than ever.
So why is it, with even more fans watching on than usually do, Leeds find it so hard to pull out a win?
No-one would deny that the first half was a nail-biting clash between the Tigers and the Rhinos. One that was expected to open up in the second half and, indeed, did so.
Yet, instead of Leeds bringing a trio of tries to the party, the fans were disappointed to see them come from Castleford.
In particular, seeing Castleford make a try out of nothing off the back of a strong Leeds set. Leeds were unable to overcome these concessions completely and Castleford took away the two points.
This week we face a Warrington side with just as much of a point to prove.
They’ve been making something of a comeback of late from a poor start to the 2017 season. Despite this, they were unable to beat Wigan in Newcastle.
They couldn’t hold onto the win at the end, and walked away with just one point.
They’ll be looking to steal another win, akin to the one earlier this season, out of Leeds.
Despite last weekend’s performance, Leeds remain in the top four in the table. They are still a big contender this year and have shown a great ability to overcome losses in the following weeks. I expect this week’s game to be no different and to see Leeds overcome this loss with a strong win against a side they often struggle against.
I hope to see more great work put in from key players like Matt Parcell, Danny McGuire, Ryan Hall and Ashton Golding. All of them seemed to have good games last week but we still couldn’t quite win. The team shouldn’t be disheartened and, instead, focus on keeping their own form to the standard they’ve been setting in recent weeks.
Magic Weekend went so well for many of the travelling Leeds faithful right up until about the time the Leeds game kicked off!
With Leeds doing well to keep the scores tight up until the break, Cas, predictably, changed gear to leave Leeds floundering. They exposed individual frailties and tactical naivety we know so well and the on-going problem of an aging squad that has lacked ruthless pruning in recent years.
In what is supposed to be yet another ‘transitional season’ it is difficult to understand why a young player who potentially should be pencilled in for a half-back role for the next decade is left propping up Bradford’s floundering campaign, rather than being integrated into a Leeds side where a similar half-back berth is being occupied by a player who is playing out of position. One has to question if the habitual loan moves are for ‘experience’ or if there’s a deeper reason.
Tomorrow night’s visitors, Warrington, are now well over their early-season blip. It also sees the return of Tony Smith to Leeds, a coach who played his part in the Leeds revival in the noughties and, like Daryl Powell, someone who has the measure of Leeds’ often uni-dimensional game plan. I always want to see a Leeds victory, but form suggests we’ll be on the end of another education that, in the words of our esteemed coach ‘we can learn from’ ... If only.
Although the result was better than I was expecting, there is still no way of being happy after losing to Cas yet again.
The Tigers were not playing as well as they have for most of this season in the first 40, but we failed to take advantage and their class showed in the second half as they ran away with the game.
Now it’s on to another double-fixture weekend against Warrington, who have kicked-on following their win over Leeds last month, and Widnes, who continue to struggle for form.
With our recent record against the Wolves, I don’t hold out too much hope for tomorrow, but I do expect us to pick up two points on Monday against the bottom-of-the-league Vikings.
Well the Magic Weekend was a blast and must stay at Newcastle.
Our luck must change soon.
Apart from a bad 15 minutes, I thought we matched Castleford Tigers.
Bring on tomorrow night’s home match with Tony Smith’s Warrington Wolves!
‘Too little too late’ was in the thoughts of many Leeds fans following the defeat by Castleford last weekend.
Fielding a lightweight pack, Leeds struggled to keep parity with a lively opposition.
It was to their credit that they raised their game and went into the half-time break level.
Sadly, a Castleford purple patch in the third quarter saw them put the game out of reach of Leeds. There was a late rally in the final quarter, but a comeback was never on the cards. Many Leeds fans were left wondering why Rob Burrow was left kicking his heels in the dugout until the game was all but over. Another ridiculous double-header weekend to come; maximum points are achievable but anything is possible at the moment.
Out-played, out-classed and out-coached is my assessment of a not-so-magic Sunday. This is before I get on to lack of structure or plan, no coached moves with ball in hand, baffling mismanagement of substitutes and generally a coach who appears to not know how to get the best out of the squad.