St Helens v Leeds Rhinos: Joel Moon rises to attacking challenge

Joel Moon.
Joel Moon.
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STAND-OFF Joel Moon is expecting a sharper attacking performance from Leeds Rhinos away to Betfred Super League leaders St Helens tonight.

Despite winning three of their opening four games, Rhinos have a for and against of zero, having scored and conceded 62 points so far.

Tom Briscoe.

Tom Briscoe.

Their defence is the second-best in the competition, behind Saints, but only bottom club Catalans Dragons have scored fewer points – though Leeds have a game in hand on some of their rivals.

“Things like that come with more games,” Moon said of Rhinos’ misfiring attack.

“It is early in the season and we’ve got some new combinations. We’ve been working on things at training, but that comes – it is a long season.”

Injury problems have not helped Leeds’ attacking cause, with their half-back combination of Moon and Richie Myler having played together only twice in league action.

Richie Myler.

Richie Myler.

Moon missed the win over Hull KR and defeat at Widnes Vikings due to injury, but returned in last week’s victory against Hull.

“I am injury-free now,” Moon confirmed. “I had a bit of nerve damage in my leg and it was going down my back, but it has cleared up.”

Of his new partnership with Myler, Moon added: “He is a good player and he’s awesome to play with. He reads the game really well and he helps me out. Hopefully we can keep going forward and work on stuff at training and start playing some good football.

“Richie was good [last week] and that’s a sign of things to come. He is only going to get better and I am looking forward to it.”

Moon reckons Rhinos are in good shape after the success against Hull, but admits they will need to go up several gears tonight.

He said: “With the weather it has been a bit of a disrupted start to the season and going over to Aussie too, it was hard adjusting back after that, but we had a good win last week.

“I thought we had some good things come out of that and we need to work on those and go forward from there.

“Going there [Saints] is always tough.

“They are always a good team and they have been going well so we’ve got to be on our game.

“I think we’ll go there with a good attitude and play well. They have been playing well and Benny Barba is going well so we’ll need our best game to beat them.”

Rhinos beat Saints twice in three meetings last year – all of them being decided by just two points.

“Every year’s different,” Moon warned.

“We’ve got new players and a new squad and you never know. It is going to be a tough game, but we’ve made a good start.

“It’s a long season and anything can happen, but at the start it’s good to get a few wins. That’s what we wanted and it’s going well now.”

Moon was Rhinos’ player of the year last season after switching from centre to stand-off.

“It has been tough, missing a week here and there,” he said.

“I need to string a few games together and hopefully get back in that routine of playing each week.”

Tonight will be Tom Briscoe’s 100th appearance for Leeds and Jamie Jones-Buchanan’s 350th Super League game.

n Dewsbury Rams have signed Wales international half-back Danny Ansell, who left Hunslet at the end of last season to join Swinton Lions.

And Rams winger Dale Morton has penned a contract extension until the end of 2019.

Ryan Hall. PIC: Allan McKenzie/

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