LEEDS RHINOS kicked off their Betfred Super-8s campaign with a fine 32-16 win over Wigan Warriors at Headingley. Here are five talking points from the game.
1: Rhinos could not have come up with a much more convincing response to the previous weekend’s Ladbrokes Challenge Cup semi-final defeat and it highlighted how inconsistent they have been this year. Rhinos looked a different side to the one out-played and out-thought by Hull and were full value for a precious victory which edges them closer to a home play-off. On this sort of form it will take a good team to top them reaching Old Trafford, but the challenge for Rhinos now is to reproduce that sort of form on a more regular basis.
2: Full-back Ashton Golding can’t have failed to notice Jack Walker warming up as 18th man. Walker, 17, has signed a three-year full-time contract and made it clear he wants to be Rhinos’ last line of defence. Golding replied in the best way possible, producing his finest performance of the season so far. He scored a brace of tries and was strong in defence and clearly isn’t going to give up his favoured role without a fight. That bodes well for Rhinos’ future prospects.
3: In hindsight, the decision to field an under-strength team in the round 23 game at Wigan was a mistake. Rhinos are a better team than Wigan as two home wins have proved. The final fixture of the regular season was an opportunity to pick up a morale-boosting win, boost Rhinos’ hopes of a home semi-final and leave Wigan well adrift. All those things were achieved on Friday, but the previous meeting was an opportunity missed.
4: Already crowds in the Super-8s are a worry. Friday’s game was almost 4,000 down on the league meeting and fewer than turned up for last year’s Qualifiers clash with Batley Bulldogs.
5: Tom Briscoe’s strong performance showed true character.