Leeds Rhinos: YEP Jury give their verdicts

Mitch Garbutt.
Mitch Garbutt.
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Our YEP Jury have their say on Leeds Rhinos’ big win over Salford and Sunday’s home clash with Catalans Dragons.

JON WINTER

A ruthless display in both defence and attack gave Leeds Rhinos a win by a margin nobody expected.

With Salford seemingly back in-form under Tim Sheens and Leeds without a few through injury, including Jamie Peacock and Kevin Sinfield, this was a potential banana skin.

It was good to see Leeds not stepping off the gas in the second half.

With the league table being so tight, points difference could be crucial in the latter stages of the Super 8s.

There were some terrific performances. Zak Hardaker always brings so much to the team. He is sorely missed when he doesn’t play. It’s early days but Mitch Garbutt looks to be a good acquisition.

It would be good to see Leeds finish the regular season top of the table, I feel it would be deserved; we have played some great rugby.

I’m sure many Rhinos fans were worried we would slide down the table like last season after we let our large lead at the top dwindle, but we have shown good character to bounce back from that.

The Super 8s is new ground and it’s going to be interesting to see how it works out.

I’m certain that the intensity of most games will increase, but to sustain that for eight weeks in a row plus the semi-final and then Grand Final, I will be surprised if there aren’t a few blow-outs. The worry is that the last few games could be dead rubbers with the lower-placed teams unable to make the four play-off places.

With a win over Catalans Dragons this weekend, it should see Leeds going into the 8s with a five-point gap over fourth place. It would take a serious loss of form for us to not make the play-offs.

Let’s hope Catalans bring their usual away form to Headingley.

However, before that begins we have the small matter of a semi-final to take care of. It would be great for Leeds to send Sinfield and Peacock to Wembley for one last tilt at the Challenge Cup before they both leave the club.

I’m surprised Leeds didn’t bring the game forward, but hopefully the short turnaround won’t have an adverse effect on the team.

ANNE BOSANQUET

The game against Salford Red Devils was a great watch. We romped away to a 70-6 win that took us back to the top of the table.

We had a shaky start with Salford having most of the possession. This was quickly put to rest with Danny McGuire going over. Tries soon followed by Cuthbertson, Watkins, Delaney, Hardaker and Moon. The first half was a relentless attack against Salford and they couldn’t seem to produce anything.

The second half was more of the same with the best try of the evening from Ash Handley’s break and finished by Hardaker.

We only let Salford in once. Defensively they looked shaken and none of their tactics appeared to work.

It was certainly a different side from the one that got a win over Hull KR the previous week.

It was good to see the Rhinos playing well with some of the important names missing. It gives hope for next season when we lose Kevin Sinfield and Jamie Peacock. I think Hardaker had a belter of a game.

His kicking wasn’t perfect, but it did prove that he can stand up to the pressure and perform.

Our next game is against Catalans Dragons at home on Sunday.

I’d be looking to build on the success of this game, and finish before the Super 8s with another win against them.

DIANNE HALL

When St Helens’ win on Thursday night put them back on the top of Super League, the ball was back in our court.

With two wins on the bounce for Salford many would have thought we would slip up, but another clinical performance from start to finish got us back to the top.

There were some well-worked tries including the funniest from Josh Walters, and Zak Hardaker had a good return from his ban as an able goalkicker. It wasn’t the ideal finalé to Adrian Morley’s swansong and I was disappointed that he didn’t stay to watch the tribute the Headingley staff had put together.

JAMIE SMITH

An emphatic performance against Salford Red Devils and although the game was effectively won by half-time, it was good to see us keeping up the high tempo and not taking our foot off the gas.

Catalans at home on Sunday. Another win and top spot secured.

GRAHAM POULTER

That was a very classy performance from Leeds from start to finish.

They were very impressive in attack and defence, apart from a lapse in concentration when Salford scored but this, for me, was the only blot on an otherwise impressive performance.

Yes, Salford made it easy for us in how they under-performed, but that’s not our fault.

We had a good attitude about us and I was glad to see us being ruthless for just about the full 80 minutes, which is what we really need going into the play-offs.

I fully expect us to continue in that frame of mind against Catalans on Sunday with a good victory for us going into the Challenge Cup semi-final with St Helens.

CRAIG TARBOTTON

It was a devastating performance from the Rhinos against a Salford side that looked impressive on paper, but on the pitch looked as though they didn’t want to be there.

Leeds controlled the game from start to finish with Hardaker the pick of the players for me.

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