Our YEP Jury have their say on Leeds Rhinos’ 2016 season.
So the curtain falls on the 2016 season with one of Leeds’ best performances against a confident Leigh side. Finishing top of the middle-8s is little consolation compared to 12 months ago but a positive going into the off season.
Another excellent crowd witnessed the last league game in front of the famous old South Stand. It will be missed as it often acted as the 14th man to raise any Leeds team playing in front of it.
How to sum up the past season? The start was focused on the departing trio and how we would cope without them. Then the loss of the Kirkstall training facility and then the beginning of countless injuries against Warrington in week one.
Not having a settled consistent team on the field each week began to take its toll. Losing regularly saw us near the bottom of the table for large parts of the season with only Huddersfield having a worse time.
Focus shifted from defending our three titles to Super League survival as the weeks went by. The only constant factor was losing, often by less than a converted try which was frustrating to the continued excellent support both home and away.
A run of seven defeats in a row could have signalled the end of McDermott’s reign but unlike Huddersfield, Leeds stuck by their coach.
Three heavy losses pretty much ended any top-eight hopes followed by Zak Hardaker leaving for Australia. Hitting rock bottom meant the only way was up and the introduction of James Segeyaro, players coming back from injury and the reopening of Kirkstall saw us finish the season well.
From only winning three games out of the first 19, we finished winning 11 out of 13! Plenty of positives have come out of the season still.
Blooding so many youngsters can only be good for the future. With a fit squad, we can still compete with the top teams however I feel we do need cover in the halves. Marching on together to 2017!
Another season over and I’m sure most of us are glad it’s at an end.
I was surprised we beat Leigh last Thursday, and I thought we played as well as we could have with a lot of first team regulars missing. I was disappointed by Leigh, who I’ve been rooting for all season, and didn’t think much of their tackling approach and overall discipline.
While 2016 may be over for the Leeds camp, there are still a few games to be played elsewhere.
Salford and Hull KR face each other in the million pound game this Saturday and I think it will be close, although I’m hoping Hull KR will stay up. I can’t not root for a side with JP in and I think they’ve been very unlucky with injuries; it’d be unfair to see them relegated. At the other end of the table, the play-off semi-finals for Old Trafford start tonight. Based on performance throughout the year I’ll be rooting for a Hull v Warrington Grand Final.
Ahead of 2017, we need to focus on our squad and look at how we can improve. To compete with the top teams again, we absolutely need to sign a couple of experienced half-backs.
I think injuries this year have shown us that it would be foolish to not recruit in this department, although given Gary Hetherington’s past record I can’t say I’m too hopeful!
A solid final performance of the season for Leeds last week, where they never looked in trouble against a poor Leigh Centurions.
Opportunities were taken by Rhinos academy players to gain some valuable experience. Ashton Golding played the full match but in my opinion looked far more comfortable, and threatening, when he moved from full-back to centre in the second half. He was explosive in attack and his inexperience in defence less obvious.
Leeds finished the season with one trophy at least!
Spare a thought for Jamie Peacock who only 12 months ago was celebrating the treble and is now helping Hull KR fight for Super League survival. Tasting the highs and lows of our amazing game in such a short period of time.
2016 was Leeds’ worst season in the modern era, although positives can be taken and younger players have gained good experience. The quality of Super League has dropped this year and fans expect more of the league, although if Leeds can sign another quality player they will be back competing in 2017.
Welcome to Super League Leigh!
It was nice to see them get given a lesson from us and I was surprised with our performance. Kallum Watkins didn’t exactly disgrace himself with his kicking boots and the swagger that James Segeyaro showed Lee Smith were particular highlights of the game.
I thought Gareth Hewer had a poor game and I could not fathom why it took till the 72nd minute to send a Leigh player to the sin-bin after sending Jamie- Jones Buchannan off for ten minutes after six minutes.
Leigh will need to improve their discipline and get younger if they are going to be competitive next season.
For us we need a organiser who can lead the team at half-back.
The victory over Leigh last Thursday evening was a classy end to what has been a disappointing season for Leeds. I don’t see any point in reflecting – it’s better to look forward to 2017, when, with a couple of new faces and better luck with injuries, I’m sure we will be back in the top four!