Talking points from Leeds Rhinos' 23-6 defeat at Widnes
Leeds Rhinos suffered their first Betfred Super League defeat of the season when they were beaten 23-6 at Widnes Vikings yesterday. Here are five talking points.
1: Injuries and fatigue clearly took their toll. Widnes were also missing some players, but Rhinos had 12 unavailable and all but one of those would have featured if fit. It’s no coincidence that all three sides who had been in Australia the previous weekend, Leeds, Wigan Warriors and Hull, lost their round three game.
2: Anthony Mullally could be available for Friday’s visit of Catalans Dragons, but most of the players ruled out at Widnes are likely to be missing again. Catalans are on the back of four successive defeats and have been particularly dire away from home, but Leeds will need to play better. Another loss to a lowly team would threaten to turn a drama into a crisis.
3: Rhinos defended very well at Widnes, particularly in the first half, but they offered little on attack. Though one of those games was against the best team in the world, two tries and 10 points scored in the past two matches is a concern. Rhinos have created pressure at times, but not made anything of it.
4: Where Rhinos are in good shape is at full-back. With Jack Walker on the injured list, Ashton Golding came in for his first appearance of the season and had a fine game, making several try-saving tackles. Rhinos have two of the best young full-backs in the game, which will be an intriguing dilemma going forward.
5: Friday will be Rhinos’ first game at Headingley since last September. With the half-built South Stand partially open and a new North Stand in place, players and fans alike will have to cope with unfamiliar surroundings and it will be interested to see how the atmosphere is affected.