Leeds Rhinos v Castleford Tigers: YEP Jury give their verdicts

Ash Handley.
Ash Handley.
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Our YEP Jury have their say on Leeds Rhinos’ home defeat to Castleford and the prospects for the Magic Weekend.


For me, the Rhinos’ performance last week against Castleford was the worst they have ever performed at Headingley stadium.

The demolition perfectly showcased everything that is wrong with Leeds this season. Defensively they have no structure, players are continually jumping out of the line and leaving large gaps that players such as Luke Gale exploit with ease. When the fans have to remind players to tackle round the legs, it’s a clear sign that the team is not performing to any sort of standard.

Even with Danny McGuire back they are lacking spark in attack, something the Rhinos have struggled with all season. Leeds simply aren’t dangerous with the ball and regardless of their position on the field, never appear to look like scoring.

The set plays executed during the match could almost be counted on one hand, clearly our training has been lacklustre, I’m sceptical the training ground can be blamed.

The three positives from the game were Jordan Lilley, Ash Handley and Jimmy Keinhorst. Lilley and Handley have been exceptional all year and towards the end of the game they still chased back hard when Castleford broke the line and looked to be pouring everything into the game. Keinhorst’s performances have been nothing short of exceptional, he appears to be everywhere on the pitch and can’t stop tackling. Even when all injured players are back, I expect all three to retain their positions.

This weekend is the best of the year, the Magic Weekend in Newcastle. Disappointingly we are facing Wigan again, and personally I think the fixtures need a shake-up to keep the games interesting. Regardless, the standard is always high at the Weekend and manages to show how good a game rugby league can be. Our game against Wigan is certainly interesting, as the Rhinos usually struggle at the Magic Weekend, and against Wigan.

Combine that with our performances this season and Leeds could be in for a long 80 minutes. Wigan lost last week to an exceptional Hull FC, but similarly to Leeds are not playing the rugby they would like to which is frustrating for the fans and players. I cannot see past a Wigan win, but Leeds will struggle to play worse than last week.”


If we thought it couldn’t get any worse, it did. After being lulled into false hope by taking the lead, it was soon quashed by our inability to stop the Castleford attack breaking through at will.

Down and out at half-time and thrashed by full time. It’s pretty embarrassing to be a Leeds Rhinos fan at the moment and no real hope of it changing anytime soon.

The excuses of early season are long gone now as is much hope of avoiding the Middle 8s.

How can so many of our “star” players be so out of form? Why is Zak Hardaker playing on the wing?

Puzzled and frustrated fans are wanting answers.

At least Salford and Huddersfield are still keeping us company on six points at the bottom!

Well on to the Magic Weekend at recently-relegated Newcastle’s St James’ Park where we face another difficult proposition in a wounded Wigan team.

They looked poor at times last time out against Hull but seem to save their best performances for us in this fixture.

Did anyone notice Sam Tomkins making his return to the game?

I don’t think enough was made of it!!

Anyway can we all pray for us to turn up this week and win?


Last week I witnessed probably one of the worst ever performances by a Leeds Rhinos team.

Putting the scoreline aside it was the lack of team spirit and leadership along with what seemed like an inability to make even the basic tackles for a large percentage of the game.

That being said I take nothing away from Castleford, who were clinical and inventive, and with the return of Luke Gale they had a player that looked in a different league to the Rhinos. The loyal Leeds supporters deserve better.

Somebody has to stand up and take responsibility and quickly. Losing becomes a habit just as much as winning, and Leeds need to go into the Middle 8s with some positive momentum.


When is someone going to take responsibility for their performance this season?

From the outside I can see a ‘blame someone else’ culture that has crept in. Unless we get anywhere remotely close to any form we had last year we are going to finish dead last in regular season.


Last Thursday was possibly one of the most disappointing performances I’ve seen by Rhinos in recent years.

Without taking anything away from Cas, who were outstanding, I thought we were terrible – particularly in defence, which seems to be a recurring theme this season. The club is insisting we’re not in crisis, but if this isn’t a crisis then I don’t know what is.

Having said this, the only thing we can do each week is get behind our team and hope we improve by the time the qualifiers come around. Things are clearly not working for us this year, we’re really struggling to get the basics right, but I don’t think this calls for McDermott to go.

He’s done enough for the club in recent years to keep my backing.


Last Thursday Castleford gave Leeds what can only described as a swift lesson in quick and slick attacking, leaving the Middle 8s looking highly probable. Until then, it’s time to get the squad fit again, but in the meantime try to upset Wigan in Newcastle this Saturday. Roll on a fun weekend.