Leeds Rhinos Jury: No point picking players to just warm the bench

Brian McDermott.
Brian McDermott.
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Our Leeds Rhinos Jury look back on the games against Warrington and Widnes over the Bank Holiday Weekend.

IAIN SHARP

Adam Cuthbertson.

Adam Cuthbertson.

Perhaps the biggest surprise of last weekend’s double rounds was how little Warrington offered.

To put it bluntly, Wire were dire. In some quarters, this raised hopes of a weekend that would yield four league points, but this was without factoring in how Leeds let off the hook just about anyone who are struggling at the moment.

The game at Widnes was also an excellent advertisement for the immediate introduction of the two on-field match officials system that is used so successfully down under.

Monday’s match referee gave an ample demonstration of how out of depth officials can appear when allowed out on their own.

Liam Sutcliffe.

Liam Sutcliffe.

The defeat at Widnes saw Brian McDermott pull off another one of his regular, infuriating ‘party tricks’, leaving a substitute warming the bench all game and not using him regardless of what state the game is in.

Why bother picking them then?

Given that Leeds face three games in a week, the logic of giving extra work to the remaining players defies sensible explanation.

Being quirky is fine if you’re winning, but the minute things go wrong, fans will rightly point the finger.

Loyalty to a coach based on past performance is admirable, but Nottingham Forest, when retaining Brian Clough, amply demonstrates what happens when judgement is clouded by sentiment. All coaches have a sell-by date and this question is one that the current Leeds incumbent should not be immune from.

The other popular argument defending the coach is that the present league position suggests things are broadly going to plan, especially compared to last term. This may not be testimony to Leeds’ superior form this season, but could easily be attributed to the malaise in the competition in general.

The same goes for Leeds’ aging squad where major rebuilding is required urgently.

Like a high-mileage car, they can still produce a performance that belies their age, tempting the sentimental fan into thinking that everything is fine, when, in reality, they are prone to ‘breaking down’ more often and to a point where long-term viability becomes an issue.

It is unrealistic to expect aging players to ‘roll back the years’ every single week over a whole season, but that seems to be what is being asked of many of the current Leeds squad.

JOHN SUTCLIFFE

The groundwork for the excellent win over a somewhat lacklustre Warrington was laid in the first 10 minutes, as the visitors laid siege to the Leeds line only to be repulsed time after time with some outstanding defensive work.

Once they managed to finally get some possession it became apparent that the Leeds team were in a class above their opponents.

Their ability to promote the ball, their willingness to back up the player in possession, plus their determination to cut out the silly mistakes of recent weeks soon led to home points.

The influence of hooker Matt Parcell and Adam Cuthbertson grows week by week.

Cuthbertson, has assumed, quite rightly, the position of ‘pack leader’, his form has returned to what it was in his first season and he plays a pivotal role on the field.

The team, as a whole, played well and combined as an effective unit.

One dilemma facing the Leeds coaching staff is what to do with Liam Sutcliffe. What is his position in the team? He has played as at ‘6’, centre, full-back, and loose-forward.

The problem is he is good in them all!

The second game of the weekend was a bit like ‘after the Lord Mayor’s Show’. Too many penalties given away, a failure to respect possession and a lack of concentration in defence proved costly.

GAVIN MILLER

From such a high Friday to a low Monday!

It was always going to be a tough period but I think we’ve missed a good opportunity to put a gap between us and the chasing pack. What a weekend of Super League though!

Let’s see which team turns up to play Leigh tomorrow.

CHRIS HARKIN

From such a high Friday to a low Monday!

It was always going to be a tough period but I think we’ve missed a good opportunity to put a gap between us and the chasing pack. What a weekend of Super League though!

Let’s see which team turns up to play Leigh tomorrow.

SAM GREAVES

We saw the best and worst of the Leeds Rhinos over the weekend.

The resounding win over Warrington was, for me, the best performance of the season and it was great to see us put a team who weren’t at their best to the sword.

Monday, however, was a different story.

Leeds never managed to show their quality and, despite having led with 10 minutes to go, crumbled and fell to a painful defeat to what has been an awful Widnes Viking side in 2017.

Tomorrow’s meeting with Leigh is the first of five games in June, and it is crucial we respond to our latest setback with a win over the Centurions to start off what will be a season-defining month on a positive note.

ABIGALE KEWIN

After a treat of two games last weekend, Leeds have played in two totally different matches. Compare a Wolves side that never seemed to turn up to a Widnes side who fought hard to win the two points. Leeds did well to get the nil on Friday, but I’d have expected them to edge the win from Monday’s game.

Cory Aston.

Cory Aston out to make a big impact after joining Castleford Tigers