Leeds Rhinos will travel to Salford Red Devils on Friday having picked up two wins out of three over the Easter period. Here are five talking points.
1: Two players were moved out of positions they have been playing well in to accommodate Jack Walker at full-back against Hull KR last Sunday, but the switch worked. Walker was excellent, Liam Sutcliffe had a solid game in the second-row and Tui Lolohea shone at stand-off. The stint at full-back seems to have boosted his confidence and it was his best performance in the pivots, though Walker’s hamstring injury may mean he returns to full-back this week.
2: Centre Harry Newman is 19 and still inexperienced at the top level. He missed two opportunities to put the game to bed against Rovers but, if young players are to be given a chance, it has to be accepted they will make mistakes. It is not easy being thrown into a struggling team, but he has pace and footwork and is creating chances, which is encouraging. He will learn from it and has a big future in Super League.
3: Rhinos’ inability to play for a full 80 minutes is mystifying. For three successive home games they have performed well and built a big lead, but then collapsed in the second half. When they scored first after half-time to go 28-0 up against Hull KR the game was in the bag but, as soon as the visitors got points on the board, Leeds fell apart. Maybe it is a confidence thing and once they do put a full game together they will go on a run, because they have shown they can play, in patches.
4: Defensively, Leeds have been better in spells over recent games, though they are still particularly vulnerable from kicks near their own line. They can also attack, but what is lacking is game management. At 28-0 up against Rovers they didn’t need to do anything other than play out their sets, but instead of ‘sticking it up their jumper’ they played like they were chasing the game and it almost cost them. Cool heads are required, but lacking at the moment.
5: Despite three injuries, Rhinos under-19s rallied from 12-0 down at half-time to win 18-16 and end Wigan’s unbeaten record. Leeds’ current youngsters are probably the best since the golden generation two decades ago.