A DRAMATIC and controversial 18-16 win over Salford Red Devils edged Leeds Rhinos closer to Betfred Super League survival. Here are five talking points.
1: A win at Halifax on Sunday should be enough to secure Rhinos’ top-flight survival. No team has ever been relegated, or featured in the Million Pound Match, after picking up 10 points in the Qualifiers and Leeds are now on eight. If Toronto Wolfpack beat Widnes Vikings next week they will go level with Leeds before Rhinos visit the Shay – and the Canadian side travel to Emerald Headingley in round seven. Rhinos have a better for and against, but to be sure they need to not only beat Halifax, but do it by a wide margin.
2: The positive from the win over Salford was Rhinos’ defence, which has improved significantly in the past two games. On attack they aren’t looking so good, but there were some encouraging signs. Once again Rhinos let the opposition back into it when they seemed to be in a winning position, but for the first time this year they managed to grab the late winner, if rather fortunately through Liam Sutcliffe’s 80th minute penalty. The desperation to keep Salford out late on, when the scores were level, was a leap forward.
3: Matt Parcell’s confirmation, in an interview with the Yorkshire Evening Post last Friday, there is nothing in rumours linking him with a return to Australia next year is good news for Rhinos. He literally put his body on the line with a game-saving intervention against Salford, charging down Robert Lui’s attempted drop goal at 16-16 and smothering the loose ball. Impressive and selfless from somebody who suffered a fractured rib last month.
4: The Qualifiers are providing some tense games, but they don’t encourage attractive or positive rugby. There is too much at stake.
5: Brett Ferres has copped some criticism from Rhinos fans this season, but his record as captain is played two, won two, which is something to be proud of.