Our YEP Jury have their say on the opening day defeat to St Helens and the task ahead at Leigh Centurions tomorrow.
An opportunity missed was my verdict from game one versus the Saints.
Pre-match my confidence was dashed with the news our skipper Danny McGuire hadn’t quite recovered from his injury and this proved key on the night as our main failing was our last tackle option which I think Danny could have improved.
After a tight opening which brought mistakes from all, probably due to the fact it was freezing cold, I thought we then took control.
JJB [Jamie Jones-Buchanan], Stevie [Ward] and Singo [Brad Singleton] all looked strong but unfortunately for us, we didn’t turn our chances into points and with only a four-point lead, I felt we had let them off the hook – and that turned out to be the case in the final analysis.
Overall, I felt our display was good to say it was round one and a step up from last year.
I must praise our new full- back Ashton Golding.
The lad caught all the high balls, brought the ball back from his line well and pulled off at least two stunning tackles which stopped certain tries, well played young sir.
My only grumble from the game was I felt we didn’t get our wide players into the game enough, in Moony [Joel Moon] and Kal [Kallum Watkins] we have two of the most dangerous ball players in the league, it’s vital we get them the ball to strutt their stuff.
This week sees us cross the Pennines, and the delightful motorway, as we head to Leigh who were given a bit of wake up call against Castleford Tigers on Friday. I imagine the place will be bouncing with their first game in Super League so we must start the game strong, quieten the Centurions’ crowd and get the win to get us off and running.
Roll on tomorrow.
Twenty-four carat Golding. The first game was filled with ups and downs as the song goes – defence was strong and the Rhinos looked to have firmed up during the off- season.
Ashton Golding saved three certain Saints tries with superb defence, could the Rhinos have a new superstar?
On the evidence of last week that’s certainly more than a possibility.
The partnership between Matt Parcell and Kallum Watkins could be lethal in the games to come.
However, as good as the Rhinos defence looked against the Saints the attack was blunt, we created chances aplenty but were sloppy when trying to cross the line – Liam Sutcliffe was denied a certain try by miraculous Tommy Makinson defence but arguably should have been stronger.
Overall, it was a good start to the new season but there’s plenty of room for improvement … key word – kicking-game!
After last week’s narrow opening-round defeat to St Helens, tomorrow night’s trip to promoted Leigh will be an early opportunity to show Leeds’ “bouncebackability” this season.
It is worth considering that Leeds also started last season with a similar two-point defeat to a much-fancied Warrington before going into meltdown...
Given Leigh’s poor display at Castleford last Friday, you’d reasonably expect a Leeds away win. However, with our opponents looking forward to their first top-flight home game since 2005, they really will be throwing everything at Leeds.
If our same last-play and kicking frailties come to the fore again and there’s a Loiners defeat, you could well hear the early rumblings of a crisis from some sections of the Rhinos’ faithful.
Leeds will need to be right at it from the first minute tomorrow. Leigh will not make it easy in their first home game since their return to Super League.
A win would quieten some of the doubters who are already appearing, but another defeat would represent a poor start to the 2017 season.
What a bruiser of a first game!
It’s a shame the match ended as it did, but, truthfully, I saw lots of great play on the field last Thursday.
Admittedly, there’s still a few kinks to iron out, but I’m excited to see what this current incarnation of the Rhinos will bring for the rest of the year.
With this thought in mind for this week’s game against Leigh, I really hope to see a consistency in quality between games.
As a fellow member of last year’s middle-8 competition it’ll be a true test of the progress the team has made since last season.
Leigh are a very different team to Saints and it’ll prove a challenge to our youngsters to adapt to the style change this fixture represents.
Sadly, despite great determination by the team, we narrowly failed to secure winning points last week at Saints. So we go into the next fixture against Leigh with the added pressure of needing to win. Hopefully, skipper McGuire will be fit to play, as he can provide some variety to a problematic attack.