Last Friday Leeds suffered yet another defeat. Again, it is not the defeat itself that is concerning, rather the manner in which we were defeated.
Despite one set-piece at the beginning of the first half, it was strikingly similar to the defeat to Wakefield. The Rhinos simply couldn’t get the ball over the line.
With Leeds welcoming back Danny McGuire, there was an optimistic atmosphere in the South Stand before the game, but Leeds failed to find any sort of momentum and appeared to, yet again, be on the back foot from the kick-off.
In the first half Leeds enjoyed a sustained period camped on the Hull KR line and last year would have scored at least one try. Failing to do so will have further knocked the already low confidence of the Rhinos.
Kieran Dixon’s length-of-the-field try shortly after half-time was interesting for all the wrong reasons.
Firstly, the kick from Rob Burrow was poor and typical of the Rhinos this year; it shows the team is not working together and have very little to offer in terms of attack.
Secondly, Kallum Watkins is faster than Dixon and over such a long distance would be expected to catch him. I believe this shows one of the main issues facing Leeds this year, and that is the fitness of the whole squad.
The fitness of the whole team looks poor. As (coach Brian) McDermott has stated, some of our forwards look like they are nearing the end of the season. The most likely cause of this is the loss of our training facility which appears to be having a much larger effect on the team than anybody anticipated.
One such player that stood out was Adam Cuthbertson, who looked out on his feet from early on in the match and, in the post-match interview, McDermott stated that some players cannot train and are only playing on match day.
This is unacceptable for a professional sports team and regardless of who fills in for these players, they should not be fielded. On Saturday night Leeds play Salford in what will be another extremely tough game.
Salford will not be worried at the thought of playing Leeds, and again, without significant improvement, it is difficult to see where our next win will come from.
Well the season continues to go from bad to worse. I’ve been reading and hearing about the possible reasons behind this alarming slump.
Leadership appears to be a big on-field problem. Having Danny McGuire back should help – someone to get the team going during difficult periods of the game and start to influence the others.
Injuries again are proving costly, especially in the backs. Only one fit winger will mean a reshuffle with players being out of position, which won’t help.
I hear that many of the team can’t train fully during the week and turn up on matchday to play.
If this is the case, then it’s showing why we are so off on attack and looking unfit when defending.
Teams are making easy metres and picking holes in our defence far too often and scoring embarrassingly simple tries.
I know that the players themselves know that they are struggling and are aware of the fans’ frustration at the situation they find themselves in.
They have provided us with so much success over the past 11 years and deserve our support even more now.
Salford away this week, and I wonder if this week we’ll start to finally show some real fight. It’s getting to the point now where we need to win, no matter what. I predict a win this weekend.
Another week, another defeat. Leeds are tumbling into a pit that’s hard to climb out of. The wins need to start coming, and if the squad is battling fitness the way that Brian McDermott says it is, then why aren’t we venturing into the loan market? Fingers crossed for Saturday at Salford.
I’m finding it increasingly difficult to watch us this season; last Friday was dreadful and I think it’s safe to say we are definitely in crisis.
We lack leadership on the field and the return of Danny McGuire didn’t make a great deal of difference, although I do think his presence will be felt when he’s had more game time.
I’m confident we will find a way out of this run of bad form – I’m just not sure whether that will be in time to salvage a play-off spot. We travel to Salford this weekend and, in all honesty, I can’t see us coming away with the two points. Salford look much improved this year and they’ve been unlucky to lose out late on a couple of times. That said, they took a bit of a hammering from Wakefield last week so it could end up being a close one.
At this moment in time going to Batley away in the middle-8s is possible.
What really concerns me is the lack of fitness in the 17 that are playing.
And (coach) Brian McDermott, at the moment, is not filling me with confidence that we can turn this around.
Leeds had a nightmare in defence on Friday evening.
The forwards are just not making enough metres and we find ourselves only at the halfway mark on the fifth tackle.
Leadership was far more evident following the return of Danny McGuire, but by the end of the match he looked shattered. I think he was trying to play all 13 positions at one point during the game!
Are the problems injuries? Is there an issue off the pitch? Has the demise of the training facilities on Boxing Day left us unprepared and floundering?
Is it a combination of all of these?
The Rhinos MUST start winning or they will be in the middle-8s in August – not a pleasant thought. C’mon Rhinoooooooos!