‘The better team lost on the day’ – YEP Jury on Leeds Rhinos’ opening day defeat to Warrington Wolves

Our panel of fans were bursting with pride despite Leeds Rhinos’ agonising 22-20 defeat to Warrington Wolves on Saturday. Here are their thoughts:

By YEP Sportsdesk
Monday, 14th February 2022, 6:10 pm

TOM RHODES

The better team lost on the day, being beaten narrowly in the last five minutes of the game owing to a forward pass that created Wrench’s try.

In a way, I am proud of our boys, producing a performance that looked like we weren’t a man down for 60 minutes of the game which, I think, showed the rest of the league that we mean business this season.

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Leeds Rhinos' Aidan Sezer runs at Warrington Wolves' Oliver Holmes. Picture: Tony Johnson.

The RFL need to clarify the new rules regarding high shots. It wasn’t until a journalist pointed out on Twitter during the game that I realised a clenched fist equals red card and an open hand equals a yellow card. If the RFL want fans to respect the officials more, then they need to clarify these new, stricter rules.

Looking ahead to our first trip across the Pennines to Wigan, I think our counterparts may be quaking in their boots.

Blake Austin’s return, along with, fingers crossed, Harry Newman should, hopefully, build our confidence going into the game. One player our boys will need to keep an eye on is Jai Field. The speedster looks a major danger which may cause havoc, especially if there’s some cheeky overhead kicks.

OLIVER LIMON

DOUBLE BLOW: Leeds Rhinos lost Richie Myler to injury and James Bentley to a red card early in Saturday’s opening-day defeat to Warrington Wolves. Picture: Tony Johnson/JPIMedia.

What a classic Leeds Rhinos performance for Channel 4’s audience and engaging coverage.

Leeds dominated early on then lost Richie Myler to injury. Warrington scored a breakaway try.

James Bentley (he does what he wants) was then red carded for a high shot; Brad Dwyer followed with a yellow. This was a catalyst for home fans to become the ‘extra man’, roaring the players on and the atmosphere remained electric from this point. Leeds managed a quick double with Zane Tetevano, who was a towering force, and Matt Prior both crashing over from short range.

Warrington scored just before the break.

Fans expect to see Harry Newman in contention for a place in Leeds Rhinos' squad to face Wigan Warriors. Picture: Simon Hulme/JPIMedia.

I even managed a cheeky appearance on TV in the background. Whilst a lot of decisions went against us – David Fusitu’a was knocked out and Leeds didn’t even get a penalty – this shouldn’t distract from a gutsy ‘brothers-in-arms’ display.

Aidan Sezer expertly controlled the attack; Kruise Leeming put in a fantastic kick for Ash Handley’s try.

At 73 minutes, Leeds were still ahead. And, even when Wolves scored to make it 22-20, Rhinos still dominated. It was heartbreaking not to win.

Special mention to Rhyse Martin who was immense in playing 80 minutes in the week his father passed away.

Up next is Wigan; if we can show the same level of intensity, skill and sheer bravery, then I can’t wait.

It is always a pleasure to watch the Wigan Walk.

JOSH MORROW

The first 10 minutes of the season went exactly as Richard Agar would have planned with the home side dominating up front.

However, the next 10 couldn’t have gone much worse – a quick-fire try from Warrington followed by a red card for Rhinos’ new signing from St Helens James Bentley who struck a falling Gareth Widdop with force to the face and, in the modern era, it was always going to be a red card.

Undoubtedly, he is a talent but needs to improve his discipline.

Two powerful tries from the front-row partnership of Zane Tetevano and Matt Prior gave the home side a 12-4 lead.

Leeds showed tremendous spirit to go into half-time in the lead after a harsh yellow card to Brad Dwyer sent them down to just 11 men. They managed to hold on to the lead until the 74th minute when Connor Wrench went over to give his side the win.

Leeds travel to Wigan on Friday night and will have to check on the injuries to Richie Myler and David Fusitu’a and Bentley will be suspended in all likelihood.

KHYA GOTT

Another late defeat, quite deja vu-like, against Warrington but it was very much a different feeling this time around.

There was much more pride in our players, who could have crumbled after that early red card, the injury to Richie Myler and the sin-bin all in the first-half.

We held off against a strong Wolves side who appeared to be off their game.

They had the extra man – and men at one point – and, eventually, they took advantage of that by playing it wide and down the wing.

Despite the defeat, Aidan Sezer had a great debut and it was nice to see Matt Prior score on his 300th career appearance.

It’s just a shame we lost it in the dying moments. It was a difficult result to take, not because of the performance but because we deserved to win.

We were the much better side on the day and deserved something from it. If we keep performing that way, and keep 13 men on the pitch for the full game, I think we can have a good run this season and, hopefully, remaining rather optimistic, we can win some silverware.

KENDLE HARDISTY

Firstly, condolences to Rhyse Martin and his family after the sudden loss of his father in the week.

In the circumstances, he was one of the better players for the Rhinos so credit to him for that.

It’s obviously a disappointing start to the campaign for the Rhinos but being down to 12 men for the majority of the game and to only lose by two points shows how far they have come.

From all the weekend’s games, you can see how discipline is going to be a massive factor in who is going to be successful over the season.

The referees are clamping down massively on any contact with the head and any late shots so I think, if the Rhinos can show that for the majority of games, then the results will start to flow.

Another tough test awaits with Wigan away on Friday.

They started round one with a comfortable victory so their confidence will be high.

It looks like Leeds will be without David Fusitu’a owing to head-injury protocols and Richie Myler but Blake Austin and Harry Newman returning would be a welcome boost.

IAIN SHARP

Well, it didn’t take long for the new season to prove controversial.

Retired Colonel Bufton-Tufton tuning in from leafy Surrey, would have been left as baffled as to why similar incidents were treated so differently.

Chris Kendall’s decision to dismiss James Bentley for an alleged ‘clenched fist’ was almost immediately shown to be flawed by the video reply.

Then, when Oliver Holmes threw a similar ‘swinging arm’ in the second half which looked ‘as bad’ as Bentley’s, Holmes remarkably stayed on the field.

In my opinion they were either both red or both yellow cards and the disparity of 12 vs 13 for majority of the game proved the marginal difference between the two sides, despite Leeds’ monumental rear-guard efforts. Throw in the farcical banning of Blake Austin in the run-up to the game, due to the tribunal ‘being a bit busy’ to deal with the case the week before and it proves what we have known for a while now.

Whilst rugby league is a fantastic product on-field, it is badly let down by its officials and administrators at crucial times, often with the rest of the world watching.

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