Our YEP Jury have their say on Leeds Rhinos’ defeat at Castleford and tomorrow’s clash with Salford.
I said last week that Leeds Rhinos could make a statement by putting in a strong performance to finally overcome Castleford, however, all I got from the game was a reminder of the Tigers’ superiority.
The Rhinos showed they had not learnt from previous meetings as they allowed Cas to build up a head of steam and post quick, easy points in the first half.
Once again, that makes me question Brian McDermott and what he is doing in training to help Leeds combat the threat the Tigers pose.
‘Winning the second half’, which means very little, has been used as a way to make the result seem better.
But in reality, the game was over by half-time and Castleford eased off which was the reason we were able to make the scoreline look more respectable.
With a home semi-final now secured due to Hull FC’s defeat to Wigan Warriors, the Salford Red Devils’ clash tomorrow night can be used to start building up some form ahead of that big game.
Last week’s was a high-scoring game, but just not in Leeds’ favour.
Castleford have been the standout team this year, playing at a high level with consistency throughout the season.
They’ve beaten Leeds at every meeting so far this season, the most recent game proving no exception.
It makes things interesting the way the table stands.Projecting forward, there’s a strong chance the two teams may meet again before the season is done.
Looking forward, the Rhinos face the Salford Red Devils this round, another team who have pulled a strong year out of the bag, including a few difficult games for Leeds. With just the last few games left to decide the format for the semi-finals, Salford have dropped to seventh in the table.
But they had a good win over Huddersfield Giants last week which will have raised their spirits ahead of tomorrow.
Leeds would do well to produce a strong game this week and head into the final portion of the season strong.
Brian McDermott, earlier in the season, accused the media of talking-up Castleford as having invented a new version of the game.
I said at the time that it was he that had, with his use of substitutes and playing players in wrong positions. However, what was evidently clear on Friday was that Daryl Powell is not coaching a new version of the game at Cas, but he is coaching a much finer version than Brian McDermott is at Leeds.
I don’t think they are ‘white hot’ or particularly special, I just think they are better coached, better set up and play attacking, inventive and direct rugby league, whereas Leeds lack all these things, and the question has to be asked: is it down to personnel or coaching?
I’m saying all that.
Leeds are a home game and 80 minutes away from Old Trafford which, along with a cup semi final, will again be enough for the coach to remain at the club.
How? I don’t know.
The well-used cliche ‘a game of two halves’ could describe the match against Castleford perfectly.
Despite making a promising start, Leeds then became their own worst enemy, missing tackles, losing possession – usually at the first tackle – and, at times, seemingly quite bewildered by what was happening around them.
At times in the second quarter the tackling was quite woeful. Castleford were quite deservedly well in front at half-time, and the many Leeds fans were quite apprehensive as to what the second half would bring.
Leeds must be one of the league’s most exasperating teams to watch as they came out for the second half in a completely different frame of mind.
Whilst Cas’ probably eased off somewhat, Leeds upped their intensity, with more aggressive tackling forcing errors from the home side.
Probably a case of ‘too little, too late’, but good to watch all the same.
Two meaningless games to come before a home semi-final; whichever team we play it won’t be an easy game.
Leeds went into last week’s game at Castleford with exactly the same ideas that have proved ‘so successful’ in the three other heavy defeats against them this season and a strategy that has all the hallmarks of General Melchett, of Blackadder Goes Fourth.
At least I’ve avoided the temptation to just copy and paste my comments from the previous meetings.
But non-performances like this leave fans feeling sicker than the proverbial parrot.
Even at our recent peak, Brian McDermott invariably failed to nullify the threat posed by Huddersfield’s Danny Brough and now this mantle has been passed to Luke Gale to equally torment us.
Another warm-up reshuffle again demonstrates the folly of retaining injury-prone players at the expense of departing younger talent.
I feel there’s been a swing over this season, with the majority of fans now losing confidence in the current coach’s ability to turn it around.
Make no mistake, second in the league is a false position and significantly papers over the cracks.