Leeds Rhinos Jury: No panic but the Rhinos need to rethink tactics

Brian McDermott.
Brian McDermott.
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Our YEP Jury look back on last week’s defeat at Warrington and ahead to tomorrrow’s clash at Hull FC.

ABIGALE KEWIN

Rob Burrow.

Rob Burrow.

Friday’s game can only be described as a game of numbers. Leeds played well throughout, attacking and defending well, keeping the game in reach for a long while.

The ferocity of the Wolves attack and sheer time they spent attacking meant that, as the game progressed, it was Leeds who were feeling that defending effort more. Even the best defensive line feels fatigue after a while.

It’s a shame for me though. The tries the Rhinos scored were lovely creations, executed well and effectively throughout the game.

The kicking game was strong, although maybe not as effective as that of the previous week.

Matt Parcell is held by George King.

Matt Parcell is held by George King.

As I’ve already mentioned, the defensive effort was stellar, for me. The turning point was that first missed conversion; it meant that Leeds were on the back foot from then on.

Other factors included some of the refereeing decisions. It can be hard, sometimes they go your way and sometimes they don’t. It still amazes me that that early, late hit by Ben Westwood on Liam Sutcliffe wasn’t more heavily punished.

It felt like Leeds went through a period where they were being penalised left, right and centre and not always justifiably. Warrington, of course, are a team who can and did capitalise.

Still, we cannot be too disheartened; the only time it felt like Leeds were disorganised was the last few minutes – a far cry from last year’s team. The run of good form hasn’t left, in my view, and I hope that others can see that too, even if the game didn’t go our way.

It’s this same form and quality that still makes Leeds a contender against Hull FC later this week. An interesting game to play for this year’s Easter ‘round one’; it could give Leeds a chance to start afresh on the Easter game records.

Hull appear to be having a lull in the season at the moment. This, to me, is something Leeds can capitalise on and keep racking up points.

I want to see Leeds keep their calm on Friday and not try to force tries, to allow the game management we’ve seen the past four games to speak for Leeds and gain them the win.

IAIN SHARP

With four steps forward in recent weeks, last week saw the predictable large step backwards against win-less Warrington.

One questionable tactic, without seemingly good reason, was the decision to start Rob Burrow over Matt Parcell at rake. Many Leeds fans understand that, as Burrow reaches ‘veteran’ status, he remains at his most potent coming on as a sub against tiring legs, whilst Parcell has been steadily improving week-on-week after his arrival from the NRL, replacing some other bloke that was here last season. It is this needless tinkering that subsequently backfires and perhaps alienates the coach from the fans the most.

In the last few weeks, Leeds’ Plan A has fired. At Warrington, with an astute coach in Tony Smith neutralising the Leeds tactics, then throw in an incident that left the fans wondering if the wrong match official had retired that week and the inadequacy of what follows if that primary plan fails was plain to see.

The Easter weekend sees a tricky away trip to Hull, licking their wounds after their shock thrashing by Salford (maybe a sign at last, that weekly-round fixtures are no longer punctuated by an excess of foregone conclusions?) followed by Widnes at home on Easter Monday. Both are winnable if Plan A clicks ... both are easily loseable if it doesn’t.

SAM GREAVES

From the opening minute, it was clear that Warrington intended to be aggressive, something that Leeds didn’t respond well to.

The Rhinos failed to gain a foothold in the game and were then wasteful with much of the possession we did have, which was always going to make it difficult for us to get anything out of the game.

The match officials didn’t help our cause, but that doesn’t hide the fact that Leeds just weren’t at it on the night.

The defeat ended our good run of late, and has also put some pressure on tomorrow’s meeting with Hull FC in East Yorkshire.

The ‘Black and Whites’ lost last week too, so both teams will be looking to bounce back in what will be an intense encounter.

GAVIN MILLER

Why change a winning formula? That was my first thought when I saw the team last Friday. It’s like the coach just can’t help himself and changing the Parcell-Burrow interchange seemed an odd decision. I hope lessons are learnt in time for tomorrow’s game at Hull and the team get back to winning ways.

JOHN SUTCLIFFE

Beaten but not disgraced was probably the feeling following the game at Warrington.

Everyone gave their all and, despite being on the wrong end of some weird decisions once again by referee James Child, we were in contention up to the last quarter. Losing Liam Sutcliffe with barely a minute on the clock to an illegal Ben Westwood tackle didn’t help.

There were plenty of positives though. The grit and determination shown in earlier matches was once again apparent as Warrington, with a heavier pack, dominated the ruck area making inroads into the Leeds defence, which, for the most part, held firm. The ridiculous Easter programme comes next with games against Hull and Widnes in short order – maximum points would be excellent.

CHRIS HARKIN

Fuming! The game should have been so much different had Ben Westwood been red-carded for his disgusting challenge on Sutty (Liam Sutcliffe).

Our boys battled hard and, on another day, we could have nicked the points. We have to dust ourselves off ahead of a big Easter. Two wins please.

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