Leeds Rhinos v North Queensland: YEP Jury give their verdicts

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Our YEP Jury have their say on the World Club Challenge and Saturday’s clash at Catalans Dragons.


Jordan Lilley.

Jordan Lilley.

From stepping into the stadium on Sunday you could tell it was no regular match, the big-game atmosphere was there from the first minute.

I’ve never seen the South Stand cheer for the opposition and the roar when Johnathan Thurston ran out and encouraged the crowd was unlike anything I’ve seen.

The Rhinos performed valiantly throughout the first half, although the try just after half-time broke our spirit and you could see our heads drop from then on.

It’s hard to be disappointed in the Rhinos, after all we were playing the ‘best team in the world’ and, overall, I thought we performed well. Jordan Lilley hasn’t looked out of place since debuting for Rhinos and this continued into the World Club Challenge.

I hope he holds his spot in the squad even after Danny McGuire’s return. Lilley is mature far beyond his age and isn’t afraid to direct the team around the field. It will be interesting to see how the Rhinos can respond to three defeats and losing Mitch Garbutt for two games; he has been exceptional for us since touching down in England and will be sorely missed.

Looking ahead, we have to travel to Catalans who have also lost their first two games and will be eager to get some points on the board.

The Dragons have already played one less game than Leeds this year and have a really strong squad that will challenge every team in Super League.

Leeds will be happy to bring Jamie Jones-Buchanan back into the squad and Beau Falloon can hopefully get some game time in; Leeds have struggled to fill the role of hooker since Danny Buderus’ departure and will greatly benefit from Falloon’s experience. Leeds haven’t won yet this year although it bears thinking about that we lost the corresponding League games last year and managed to complete a clean sweep of trophies.

Looking at our upcoming fixtures there’s some very tough games, making it even more important that we at least put in a good performance against Catalans to get our confidence back before the season really begins to deteriorate.

It will be a really tough game but Leeds will benefit from getting more experience back into the squad.

I’ll predict a Leeds victory by 16 points.


Now that the dust has settled on another World Series whitewash, it’s safe to say the English game still has some work to do.

All three Aussie teams were strong, professional and very clinical.

I’ve never seen so many tries scored on the back of opposition mistakes.

However all is not doom and gloom. Yes, Leeds were well beaten looking at the score but the way we competed with the depleted team we put out should give us heart. We have two young half-backs learning against the world’s best and will only improve them on the back of this.

The first-half performance shows we have the ability to challenge the best. A lack of experience and composure at key moments and simple mistakes cost us.

Back to Super League this week and a bottom of the table clash with Catalans Dragons. It’s not ideal but a game we must win.

We’ve lost Mitch “Rocky” Garbutt for two matches but I’m hoping we may be seeing a return of JJB and Beau Falloon this week.

Catalans away has been a mixed bag of results recently but they seem to be as out of form as we do.

Hopefully a warm, dry day will allow us to play to our strengths.

Two points to get the season going would be nice.


Many believed that with the number of injuries Leeds were carrying, the young Rhinos team would be led out like lambs to the slaughter against the mighty North Queensland Cowboys.

For the first half at least the Rhinos’ academy players definitely stepped up to the mark and performed as men.

It was a credit to the Rhinos’ determination and teamwork that they went into half-time on an even footing with the NRL champions. Perhaps the Herculean efforts in defence during the first half took their toll on the young Leeds side as Queensland ran in six unanswered tries in the second 40 minutes.

Most worryingly for Leeds is the lack of tries scored so far this season – only five tries in three games.


I’M very proud of the lads! We showed some fight especially in the first half unlike those from other side of the Pennines. I’m heading over to Perpignan this Saturday to see the Catalans Dragons game, and I would like us to continue with the effort we had in the first half to get our first victory.


Sunday’s World Club Challenge was certainly a game of two halves as the old cliché goes.

I feel we should take plenty of encouragement from the way we played in the first half, and the way we defended in particular. But, unfortunately, the game eventually took its toll and the Cowboys played like we all know they can.

It would have been nice for at least one of the English teams to have won last weekend, and I thought we were going to put up a bit of a fight, but the three results speak for themselves.

As always, it’ll be tough to go to France and pick up two points against Catalans Dragons, but if we play anything like we did in the first half on Sunday, then we should be in with a shout.


My call last week was for belief, and such belief was justified after 40 minutes against North Queensland on Sunday evening. However, it just wasn’t to be, so we move on to a tricky trip to the south of France. Fingers crossed that the two points are coming back to West Yorkshire.