Widnes Vikings v Leeds Rhinos: YEP jury predictions

Willie Poching.
Willie Poching.
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The YEP jury make their predictions ahead of Widnes Vikings v Leeds Rhinos.


The performance versus Huddersfield Giants last Thursday was a lot more promising than we have been in recent weeks.

Going into the game we were missing Brad Singleton, Danny McGuire, Rob Burrow, Mitch Achurch, Zak Hardaker, Paul Aiton and Jamie Jones-Buchanan, players who would all walk into the first-team squad.

We brought in youngsters like Josh Walters and Luke Briscoe, as well as Ben Jones-Bishop at full-back.

Josh Walters showed a lot of enthusiasm once again in both attack and defence.

Luke Briscoe came on at hooker, a position he has never played in his career. At times you could tell, but he still showed glimpses of talent.

Robbie Ward had a fantastic game at hooker. When he was off the field, we didn’t have much direction, you could actually tell the amount of work he does.

When he came back on the field in the second half, Leeds kicked back on and with his set plays and influence, he brought Leeds in touching distance of a spectacular win. He was definitely my man of the match. I look forward to seeing the competition between Burrow, Aiton and Ward in the near future.

Tom Briscoe almost stole the game from Huddersfield, the question is, was it the correct decision? Sadly, I think it was, but not for the same reason as the video referee. In my opinion, I believe the challenges were fair, with Danny Brough already falling to the floor before Tom Briscoe puts a hand on him. I believe that Tom Briscoe didn’t ground the ball fully, but that’s something we will never know.

Onwards to our next game. We have a very tough trip to Widnes Vikings. They played Wigan Warriors last night, a game which I’m hoping will have taken a lot out of them. It will be good to have Carl Ablett back, a player we have missed a lot. We could have Andy Yates, our pre-season signing from Hunslet Hawks, who returned from injury last weekend on dual registration at Hunslet. There also a possibility that both Danny McGuire and Jamie Jones-Buchanan will return from Injury, which is a much-needed boost for Leeds. Hopefully we can get back to winning ways on Sunday.

In other rugby league news, I was very sad to hear that Francis Cummins had been sacked by Bradford Bulls. He has had no money to spend and with a team full of youngsters and loan players, he has done all he can.

Also, Warrington Wolves confirmed Willie Poching will leave them at the end of the season. I would not be disappointed if either came to Leeds as an assistant to Brian McDermott.


There are signs we are getting back to form and the young players were excellent especially Josh Walters.

There was a renewed desire which waned in those 10 minutes where the Giants scored three tries. That 10 minutes cost us the game.

The dramatic finish left many angered by the officiating and unfortunately most rugby league forums are discussing refereeing rather than the great rugby league played.

I think the game in general is being ruined by the ‘interpretation’ of the rules, the video referee being specifically damaging to the enjoyment of our game. It is paralysis by analysis. The game has and never will be played in slow motion. We seem to go to the screen for anything and everything then spend five minutes checking every angle three or four times in an effort to find fault rather than rewarding and giving the benefit of the doubt to the attacker. The most enjoyable games are now those that are not on TV – games where referees have to do just that, referee. But who is accountable and responsible for changing the way we officiate? The obstruction rule has become a farce. Fans, players, coaches and media are all unanimous in their disdain, but who is responsible to sort it out? Answers on a postcard!

Now I’ve let off a bit of steam I can now look forward to a ‘video-less’ game at Widnes. We will kick on and win this one.


Form is temporary, class is permanent is the saying, but after losing three of the last five games the Rhinos’ form is a bit of a worry at the moment.

We were missing no fewer than eight of the first-team squad last Thursday.

And no matter who you are it’s going to take its toll eventually.


Quite why Leeds waited until after the final hooter to throw the ball around in an attempt to grab victory from the jaws of defeat I don’t know.

Leeds rolled down the middle for the whole game against Huddersfield yet were only ever rewarded when our centres eventually saw some ball.

YES, Leeds have injuries, YES, they are in key positions and YES, it was an “improved performance”.

However, Brian McDermott needs to get a grip before a promising season drifts away.

Leeds need to match Widnes on Sunday tactically and the coach needs to think about how to get the best of of his team. More game time for Robbie Ward and Brad Singleton for starters.


At the risk of getting a five-match jury ban, Mr Silverwood’s refereeing was abysmal last Thursday.

The offsides and forward passes that were missed by him and the flag wavers was beyond a joke. Twenty minutes killed us, but we showed fight and played much better than we have in recent weeks.


Leeds probably could and should have won against Huddersfield last Thursday, but it wasn’t to be.

Improved performances across the board from a number of players meant that they were in it to the end and what an end!

The players will have a good rest before taking on Widnes on Sunday. Carl Ablett should return and although Widnes are playing Wigan in midweek they will still want to beat us on their own ground. If performances continue to improve it should be another two points to keep us up near the top of the table.

Many congratulations to Sir Kev on his MBE. Thoroughly deserved, a brilliant role model on and off the pitch.

Where's my seat? Coach Brian McDermott at Leeds Rhinos' photoshoot.

 Picture: Bruce Rollinson

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