Leeds Rhinos v Bradford Bulls: YEP Jury predictions

Liam Sutcliffe.
Liam Sutcliffe.
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THE YEP jury has its say ahead of Leeds Rhinos v Bradford Bulls.

Name: Matt Fowler

Age: 37

Rhinos fan for: 
25 years

Lives: Kippax

As I sit here on my lounger in the Spanish sun I look at the set of results from last week and think to myself, are we about to leave the path to the promised land?

The league table is as tight as it has ever been, the race for the top and the race for eighth will probably go to the last round.

Fixtures which were almost byes for the big-four are now tense affairs with unpredictable results. Everything the RFL and Super League wanted is starting to bear fruit. Next year, however, we have decided to switch on to a new path. Promotion and relegation are back and the closed shop is now open.

I am not saying this is a bad thing as I am still unsure of what the future holds, but it is a little ironic that one of our objectives of having a strong, unpredictable League is now within grasp and we decide to change course. Only time will tell if we were correct in doing so.

For only the second time this season I had the chance to watch Leeds from afar without the distraction of social media and opinion from those ‘in the know’.

For large parts of the game against Salford I thought we were very good. Offensively we looked much better and scored some good expansive tries. Kallum Watkins saw much more of the ball and there is no doubt he is the best centre in the league. One soft try aside the defence was excellent and the desire to get the win was never in question.

The brightest light in the performance was again the crop of young talent. Walters, Minchella, Singleton and Sutcliffe didn’t look out of place especially when the going got tough.

The key to Rhinos’ success and the blueprint all other clubs are trying to follow is the youth system we have in place. It doesn’t guarantee success, but if blended with the huge talent and experience we have it goes a long way. Talent only gets you so far, the very fabric of the club is how you conduct yourself on and off the field and learning to be the best. Being mentally prepared, especially at this time of the season is what can set you apart from the also rans and helps you lift the trophies at the end of the season.

The signs are there that we are beginning to peak at the right time again. The ‘old guard’ as they have been called for about three years now are beginning to gain some form and the final push is upon us.

One thing we all need to do now, as we always do, is support the team with everything we’ve got. As the players always say, the support means so much to the team.

Name: Ian Sharp

Age: 43

Rhinos fan for: 
36 years

Lives: Garforth

Last week must have been the first time I’ve been to Lancashire and the sun has been shining.

A very nice little stadium the AJ Bell is, and the real ale and the live band outside added to a summer atmosphere. Maybe Dr Marwan Koukash should spend a few quid on improving the road out of the stadium as it took 45 minutes just to get out of the car park and with only 5,000 in it’s a bit of a joke.

To the match, and I think we got a bit lucky holding out like we did.

A good start with 10/15 minutes of pressure, but not scoring and then they take the lead is just not going to cut it at this stage of the season.

With no Delaney or Bailey or Kirke, the bench was again very light up front, but I thought Josh Walters had another good game.

McGuire had another good game and his kick for Zak Hardaker to score our first try was top drawer.

Tom Briscoe made a good run for Watkins’ try, but that again was about all he did. I’d still start Ben Jones-Bishop on the wing.

And how Paul Aiton gets a start is beyond me, poor passing from the ruck again.

I’d have Rob Burrow 9 Mags 6/7 and Sooty at the other half-back while Sir Kev is out of the picture.

A good derby up next to the relegated Bulls and then the big test of Wire to get the ‘march to the arch’ on the way.

Name: Gavin Miller

Age: 37

Rhinos fan for: 
25 years

Lives: Leeds

There was a moment of real joy on Friday at Salford.

Paul Aiton took the ball from acting half, ran across the line and hit Kallum Watkins running a great line. He then fed his winger, Tom Briscoe, who, after some fantastic work hogging the touch line, passed the ball back inside to the rampant Watkins for a scintillating try.

By my reckoning this was the first time in eight or more games Leeds had put together such a simple yet devastating play.

Hopefully it’s the start of something of a recovery in form and tactics.

We need to see more of this in the coming weeks as the business end of the season is fast approaching.

Name: Christine Kidd

Age: 58

Rhinos fan for: 
Over 30 years

Lives: Tadcaster

A better performance and another two points against Salford. More improvement tomorrow should give Leeds confidence for the Challenge Cup semi. A win for Leeds should be a given, but with the pressure off Bradford and playing their last game against the Rhinos for a while, who knows what could happen?

Name: Matty Wilcock

Age: 28

Rhinos fan for: 
15 years

Lives: Pudsey

With Kevin Sinfield sitting out last Friday night’s game at Salford it was always going to be a tough task playing a side that had won its last three games.

Rob Burrow was again the stand-out player for the Rhinos with a man-of-the-match performance which caused the Salford defence all kinds of problems.

This week’s game sees the relegation-confirmed Bradford Bulls come to Headingley for what could be the last time for some years.

A date with Warrington Wolves in the semi-finals follows this game and surely Brian McDermott will be tempted to rest some of his players for what should be a routine victory.

Name: Adam Anderson

Age: 24

Rhinos fan for: 
12 years

Lives: Rothwell

Another scrappy and lucky win against Salford.

We need to gain momentum before the semi-final. We have Bradford Bulls this week, who pulled off an outstanding win last Sunday against Wigan Warriors. They will be tough.

Hopefully we can rack up some points in their final Super League visit until at least 2016.

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