Leeds Rhinos Jury: Tigers test will set the stage for rest of season

Brian McDermott.
Brian McDermott.
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Our YEP Jury look back to Leeds Rhinos’ victory over Barrow and ahead to Sunday’s Magic Weekend clash with Castleford.


Sunday’s Challenge Cup game against Barrow turned into the procession I expected.

A full-time Super League club against a part-time third-tier team should result in a walk over and Leeds racking up 70 plus points should come as no surprise. Nor should it be a barometer for the rest of the season.

So, that said, where is Leeds’ season at? I suspect we may know more after Magic Weekend and the Castleford game. Their victory in the Challenge Cup against St Helens is a measure of where their season is at.

Despite the fact that you don’t win anything in May, Cas at the moment are racking up points, performances and results and the confidence in that squad, ironically being led by three former Leeds players, Zak Hardaker, Paul McShane and Luke Gale, is palpable.

Magic Weekend will be a huge test for Leeds and will go some way to setting the stage for the rest of the season.

Win and they can grow in confidence and be safe in the knowledge that they can take on anyone in the league, lose and the feeling may be that they are finding their level this season which will be around fifth and somewhat inconsistent.

My feeling is that Brian McDermott, as ever, is at a bit of a loss. He’s playing without a recognised half-back, and getting away with playing Joel Moon against lesser sides. But as the Huddersfield game proved against an organised half-back like Danny Brough, we will struggle. With the aforementioned Gale, Cas have that player. Will the coach bring Rob Burrow back into the halves alongside Danny McGuire or stick with the Moon experiment? He can’t recall Jordan Lilley after shipping him out to our struggling neighbours Bradford so his options are limited.

Until Magic, I’ll remain positive, I always do. However, I do think Brian McDermott has a huge week this week to sort out a game plan on how to stop Cas, whilst imposing our game to go ahead and get a result. Unfortunately, if history is anything to go by, and as recently as our last meeting with Castleford, relying on the coach’s game plan, is always a hit or miss prospect.


It’s safe to say this week’s Challenge Cup game was a solid win for Leeds. Credit goes to Joel Moon for his stellar hat-trick and a nod to the crowd of Barrow supporters who came and were rewarded by a couple of tries sneaked past Leeds’ defence.

It’s always nice to see players enjoying themselves and scoring good solid tries. It’s good practice ahead of this weekend’s Magic Weekend fixture.

If we cast our eyes to the games up in Newcastle, it makes for an interesting set.

Leeds, of course, are taking on Castleford Tigers. Both teams have been in good form lately. If we look at last week’s Cup games, both teams had convincing wins. They enter the clash this week raring to go and collect those two points. To me it makes the icing on an already exciting cake.

The Magic Weekend remains a unique and amazing concept within not just rugby league but even amongst other sports.

It’s a brilliant event in the sporting calendar. Yet when we look at the past few years’ events, Leeds don’t have the best record.

This year could be the year that that record changes, now that the fixtures have had a shake up.

I have very high expectations for Sunday and believe the Rhinos could see off the in-form Tigers.


By the time Joel Moon went over for his third try shortly before half-time, the game against Barrow had been put to bed, tucked in and the light switched off.

Too strong, too fast and far fitter than their opponents, Leeds cruised through to the quarter-finals, and another home tie against Championship opponents, Featherstone.

This Sunday a far greater threat looms in the shape of a rampant Castleford Tigers team, Leeds are a much better side than they were the last time the teams met, and Cas can be beaten.

Providing the Rhinos can assert some control and not sit back and allow Cas to just throw the ball about at will, something many teams have allowed to happen already this season, Leeds can win.


It was mission complete on Sunday against Barrow Raiders. No injuries a big win and through to the quarter-finals was just what we needed. Now roll on Magic Weekend, my favourite weekend of the year and I can’t wait for our clash with Castleford Tigers – revenge will be sweet.


With Barrow safely disposed of, Leeds’ good fortune in the Cup continues with yet another lower league side by landing Featherstone in the quarter-finals due to be played in mid-June.

This weekend sees Leeds travel off to Newcastle for Magic Weekend and yet another ‘one off’ gimmick kit. This is on the back of home, away and now a third shirt that seem to mutate on an annual basis. Why no rotation on changes to kit, giving jerseys a two year ‘shelf life’ and the fans some protection?

On field, Leeds will have another crack at trying to halt the Castleford juggernaut. Cas have proved they are not invincible in recent weeks so maybe this is the chance to get some return on the farce of a few months ago.


I have no complaints about the comprehensive win over Barrow. The overall performance was good and the Rhinos scored some great tries, making for a pleasant Sunday afternoon. This weekend’s game in Newcastle will be a much tougher test and I just hope that Leeds avoid another heavy defeat.