Our YEP Jury have their say on Leeds Rhinos’ victory over Leigh Centurions and look ahead to the derby clash at Wakefield Trinity.
What a difference a week makes, going from a vibrant, enthusiastic performance against Warrington the previous Friday to a dire, mistake-strewn display against Leigh.
On a wet night at Headingley, two tired teams attempted to put on a display for the paying public.
There was an obvious lack of energy on the field; although the players from both sides did their best, the toll of playing three games in a week meant the skill levels were down.
The problems were compounded by yet another edition of the ‘James Child Show’.
I’m sorry, but to award a grand total of 26 penalties, which equates to one penalty every three minutes or so, hardly helped matters. No wonder players became frustrated.
However, another game in which Adam Cuthbertson stood head and shoulders above most others gave Leeds two well-needed points. The battle for the top four goes on!
Much has been written over the past week about the folly of yet another double-header weekend, all negative and highlighting the lack of ‘duty of care’ shown by the RFL towards the players, comments which I heartily agree with.
The other aspect of this decision which tends not to be mentioned involves the low quality of the second and third games during this period which ‘short changes’ the loyal spectators who, rightly, expect to see competitive matches. Leeds face some tough games over the forthcoming weeks. Wakefield away will not be easy, neither will the matches against Saints, Castleford and Featherstone.
However, the welcome return of Carl Ablett and Keith Galloway will strengthen the pack somewhat; hopefully the injury to Rob Burrow will not be too serious as he has been very influential of late.
The ongoing absence of Jimmy Keinhorst has left a big hole in cover for the three-quarters; our coach doesn’t seem to really know who should play alongside Kallum Watkins in the centre position as he persists with Joel Moon at half-back. There does seem to be a lack of suitable reserves coming through to fill this important role. More worrisome is what seems to be a lack of forward planning.
With several players possibly approaching retirement at the end of the season, who will be taking their place?
After three games in a week it was all about getting a win against Leigh – but that game was painful to watch.
Of course, the busy schedule, miserable conditions and stop-start nature of the match all had an effect on the quality of what we saw, but the errors and predictability of both sides gave it a very amateurish feel.
In truth, Leeds should have had the points wrapped up midway through the second half but missed conversions and opportunities meant the Centurions were always in it, but fortunately the visitors were also wasteful on the night.
Once again, though, credit must go to Adam Cuthbertson, who was one of the few players who managed to perform to a good level.
His efforts in helping Leeds to win the ‘battle of the forwards’, as well as his two tries, is what I think got us two crucial points out of a scrappy contest.
By the time Saturday’s clash with Wakefield comes around, there will have been eight days between fixtures, which is plenty of time for the players to recharge their batteries.
Trinity have been in great form recently, with six wins in six league matches, and have played some attractive rugby in that time too.
And the Rhinos will have to halt their run if we are to stay above them in the standings.
Friday night against Leigh was pretty uninspiring stuff.
Lots has been made about three fixtures in a week and coaches have been pretty vocal about player welfare and how ‘flogging’ the players has an adverse effect on performance and entertainment. And I can agree absolutely with this view.
However, should Brian McDermott have managed the squad better? There were unused subs and subs with very little game time over that period and four players with first-team experience playing Championship rugby with Bradford, who could have been used.
Still, two wins from three keeps us in the top-four mix and a tough game with in-form Wakefield on the horizon will be another test of this team’s prospects for 2017.
Physicists have suggested the possible existence of parallel universes and even the possibility of travelling between them. I suggest they’ve accidentally answered one of the great questions that has been perplexing Rugby League fans for many years – which planet is referee James Child on?
Well the Super League ‘contest’ between Leeds Rhinos and Leigh Centurions certainly wasn’t pretty, but, considering it was our third game in eight days and throw in the awful weather, I was pleased with the result.
And it’s another two points on the board.
A mention must go to our skipper Danny ‘Mags’ McGuire.
He was outstanding against Wire, missed against Widnes Vikings when we lacked control, and, on Friday was again in fine form – there’s still life in the lad yet.
Saturday at Wakefield Trinity has the potential to be a classic.
But a ‘game’ will be needed from all the boys if we are to take the points and keep the pressure up in the race for the top four come the end of the campaign.
After a weekend of big scores, it was nice to see Leeds Rhinos keep control of a game and come out on top.
It was a big contrast to the Leeds that faced Leigh in just the second game of the year. We now face a confident Wakefield, another team hitting a good run of games but who will win?