LEEDS RHINOS let an 8-0 lead slip in the final few minutes as they slumped to a one-point defeat by Wigan – here are five talking points following the champions’ third loss of the Betfred Super League season.
1: Could have, should have, didn’t. Rhinos were two scores up with 10 minutes to go, having had numerous chances to put the game out of Wigan’s reach, but once the visitors got points on the board they looked most likely winners. The penalty goal which extended Leeds’ advantage to 8-0 seemed the right option at the time, but then Rhinos tried to shut up shop rather than going for a knockout blow and the tactic backfired.
2: Twice this season Leeds have been beaten by a long-range drop goal which they failed to close down – and they were fortunate a similar attempt was off-target at Huddersfield. Rhinos should be used to close matches – five of their 10 league fixtures this season have been decided by four points or fewer and they’ve also had a draw – but game management in tight situations is something they need to work on.
3: The sides have been on a similar hectic schedule, but Wigan seemed fresher in the closing stages and made better use of their interchanges. The game lacked the intensity of most Leeds-Wigan fixtures, there were too many errors by both teams and the fixture pile-up over Easter is still having an adverse effect on the quality of rugby being produced. A full house crowd and viewers watching on television deserved better from the British game’s two heavyweights.
4: Adam Cuthbertson’s return, after two months on the sidelines with a broken hand, was a bonus for Leeds. Rhinos have missed Cuthbertson – whose hand was bandaged after the game – and he will only get stronger with game time. Youngsters Mikolaj Oledzki and Cameron Smith have done well, but at 19 they can’t be expected to play every week at the top level.
5: Rhinos have persisted with Kallum Watkins as goal kicker and he is proving up to the job. His two goals on Friday were excellent efforts.