Leeds Rhinos’ recent good form evaporated when they were crushed 32-16 at home by fellow strugglers Hull KR. Here are five talking points.
1: Rhinos are going to take their relegation battle down to the wire. Whenever it appears they have turned a corner, a couple of backwards steps inevitably follow. Leeds’ players proved against Catalans Dragons and Castleford Tigers what they are capable of and they have to be accountable when they plunge below that standard.
More mental toughness is needed. That’s what produces consistency which Rhinos are sadly lacking.
2: It seemed Leeds had put their early-season defensive frailties behind them, but Hull KR tore them open with embarrassing ease, were fortunate not to be more than 14 points up after 20 minutes and fully deserved the 16-point final margin.
Good teams can back up and string five or six wins together, but that is beyond Rhinos and third from bottom in Betfred Super League is where they deserve to be at the moment. Five of their final seven games are at home, but that includes all the current top-four. Nervous times lie ahead.
3: There’s no doubting Matt Parcell’s attacking ability and, despite being relegated to a bench role this year, he tended to spark Leeds up when he was on the field. He was clearly out of favour and Rhinos needed to move him on to free up space for an overseas signing, but the Aussie has made one of their main rivals a better team.
His opening try, when he exploited Leeds’ vulnerability to dummy-half scoots close to their line, had been coming for three weeks.
4: Painful as it was for Rhinos, Danny McGuire deserved to bow out of Emerald Headingley as a winner. One of the club’s all-time greats, his inspirational performance for Rovers proved, even at 36, he is still all class.
5: Brett Ferres made a decent contribution as a makeshift middle and that may be where his future now lies, but going without a specialist prop on the bench was a mistake.