Our YEP Jury have their say on Leeds Rhinos’ victory over Hull FC and look ahead to tomorrow’s derby at Castleford.
Despite not managing to put enough daylight between ourselves and Hull FC on the scoreboard to be confident enough to say the win was in the bag until late on, I felt as though Leeds Rhinos were comfortable throughout last Thursday’s win.
The Rhinos looked a threat offensively and, in truth, could and probably should have added a few more points to the tally.
The defence wasn’t quite up to scratch, but FC are a quality side and are always going to score points.
As predicted, their Challenge Cup final exploits did have an effect as they became increasingly tired in the final 20 minutes, allowing us to wrap up the game and a semi-final spot.
I see tomorrow’s trip to Castleford Tigers as an opportunity for the team to make a statement.
Many people, including myself, have given Leeds little chance of ending the season with a win at Old Trafford, but a win over the team who have been by far the best in the league would suggest that we are not to be written off yet.
As promised last week’s game against Hull FC was a big challenge for the Rhinos.
Although a messy game on the whole, the team were able to put plenty of points on the board to get past the Challenge Cup winners.
They continued their streak of home-ground wins against the Hull team with perfect timing.
The win takes the Rhinos close to securing a second-place finish in the Super-8s table and a much-sought-after guarantee of a home game in the semi-finals.
It gives the team some breathing space when they face the league leaders Castleford Tigers in a West Yorkshire derby at The Jungle tomorrow.
Castleford have undoubtedly run away with the league and they’ll be sure to want to cap off a great season with another win over Leeds. A potential precursor to a possible Grand Final rematch?
As we reach the final stages of the Super-8s the games have grown more intense.
The Grand Final is certainly now looming ahead and pushing players to keep producing high-level performances.
After Leeds Rhinos were beaten by the odd point in 60 by Castleford Tigers earlier in the season, the Headingley club coach, Brian McDermott, said afterwards that “we weren’t far off” and, after overcoming Hull last week, he said we were “awful”.
Not usually known for his clarity in post-match interviews, McDermott’s assessments of the games left me agreeing with only one of them.
I was, however, in full agreement with his further post-match comments with regards to players looking to the referee to get them out of trouble.
Hull were guilty of it last week as were Wigan on the following night.
Looking to win penalties isn’t in the spirit of our sport and more needs to be done to stamp it out of the game sooner rather than later.
Top-four is now secured and the next stage is securing second place and a home semi-final.
The pessimist in me, though, still can’t get excited about the possibility of a winning trip to Old Trafford, as I feel there is still much improvement required for the team.
For much of the game against Hull FC last Thursday evening, it was difficult to be sure which of the two teams playing at Headingley had had a week off and which had played in a Wembley final.
There were certainly some good moments in attack by both teams but some defensive lapses ensured that the result was in doubt until the final quarter of the game.
Some 20 penalties, a sin-binning and a team warning detracted from what could have been a quality game.
Someone had obviously told (referee) Mr Child to go out and enjoy himself. Unfortunately, to the annoyance of players and spectators alike, he did.
One of the highlights of the game, and probably the try that gave Leeds some breathing space, was the sight of Adam Cuthbertson racing over for yet another try.
When, if at all, have all the starting front-row scored in the same game?
A totally different proposition faces the Rhinos next with a visit to Castleford Tigers.
It would be good to beat them before the Grand Final, assuming we actually get there.
Hull FC were safely dispatched last week in game that was summed up by mate: “a decent side would have murdered us.”
Throw in Leeds being assisted by Hull’s injuries during the game and the usual alternative universe inhabited by referee James Child, and you knew full well that you were in for a rollercoaster ride of an evening at Headingley Carnegie.
It was also the first game ‘sans South Stand’ and’ naturally, there was a lack of atmosphere as people were occupying unfamiliar ground and making new acquaintances.
Even the TV viewer had to get used to seeing, rather than hearing the South Stand.
This week’s massive test is away to runaway leaders Castleford Tigers.
The game offers hope of overturning the three previous capitulations this season, as well as the faint glimmer that we might stand a chance in the Grand Final.
And finally, after a brief sojourn to the Scottish Borders last week, I’m delighted to confirm there are (as I readily suspected) Leeds Rhinos fans everywhere!