LEEDS RHINOS completed successive wins with a 20-14 victory over Salford Red Devils in their Betfred Super League home opener.
Liam Sutcliffe’s last-gasp try provided a dramatic finish to a see-saw contest. Here are five talking points from the game.
1: Rhinos got away with one.
A draw would have been a fair result and Leeds would have lost if Gareth O’Brien - who landed seven goals from as many attempts against Huddersfield Giants eight days earlier - had packed his kicking boots.
Stevie Ward’s pass to Adam Cuthbertson in the build-up to Sutcliffe’s crucial touchdown looked forward, but after what’s happened over the past 12 months, Leeds will take anything they can get.
2: Sutcliffe has taken some, unjustified, criticism so far this season.
Whether stand-off is his best role remains to be seen and it would be good to see him have a run at loose-forward, but with two goals, a crucial drop goal and relieving 40-20 kick at Leigh Centurions and the try against Salford, he has made a big contribution to Rhinos’ back-to-back wins.
3: If it wasn’t for bad luck, Stevie Ward would have no luck at all.
He played only four times last year and once in pre-season due to knee injuries, but has looked strong and sharp in Rhinos’ three Betfred Super League matches so far, before damaging a hamstring in the final moments against Salford.
He will be a big loss if the injury proves to be long-term.
4: Rhinos haven’t had a great deal of success with ‘projects’ over the last few years, but Jack Ormondroyd might reverse the trend.
The former Featherstone Rovers man got good game time last week, ran the ball in strongly and looks to have the makings of a good, Super League forward.
5: Leeds continue to defend well.
Their attack in the second half against Salford was better than it has been, but they are struggling to apply a killer touch and have developed a habit of letting opponents back into the game.
They will need to be much more clinical to beat in-form Castleford Tigers at the Jungle on Thursday.