Wigan Warriors v Leeds Rhinos Jury Preview: Morgan Gannon gives hope for the future on emotional Super League night at Headingley
Leeds Rhinos beat Huddersfield Giants last time out by a seemingly modest six points but, for the fans at least, the manner of the victory was sufficient to reignite thoughts of the Super League play-offs.
High-class performances from Rhinos’ youngsters also cranked up the optimism levels of our Yorkshire Evening Post fans’ jury - for this season and many more to come.
Despite a cagey first half and some very clever play from Will Pryce, the win against Huddersfield was never really in doubt.
It wasn’t a great performance from either team - more a contest between two burnt-out sides, low on both players and energy.
Despite this, our support was lively and paid a wonderful tribute to Rob Burrow, singing his chant throughout the game.
We have a quick turnaround this week as we travel along the M62 to Wigan tonight.
We’ve welcomed back four players to the squad since last week and, although Ash Handley could be a doubt with the groin strain he suffered on Friday, I am feeling hopeful.
Wigan are still missing plenty of key personnel, due to various injuries and - quite fortunately for us - saw a ban handed out to Willie Isa following the derby with Saints last Friday.
It’s not an ideal Super League away fixture for a Wednesday evening but it would be great if we were to take a decent travelling support to really get behind the boys and, hopefully, get the win.
I wasn’t at the Giants game as I was isolating with my daughter who had Covid so I only have the Rhinos Twitter summary, the YouTube highlights, the strangers on Leeds Rhinos Facebook and my very reliable friend JG, who was there, to go by.
Leeds Rhinos Twitter gave the impression of a pretty solid performance with a late scare when down to 12 men and the YouTube highlights gave a similar impression. It showed some good tries, some intelligent rugby and a couple of good reasons why we let Ashton Golding go.
But JG’s summary is the best: “A dogged and determined display in which we were largely dominant and the scoreline flattered Huddersfield who we bullied and forced into some coach killing errors. Morgan Gannon fantastic. Haven’t been as excited about a young forward since Adrian Morley. He’ll be a megastar. The future is bright.”
He’s good with words is JG and prone to getting carried away about young players!
Wigan tomorrow: Key bodies back and Wigan look so poor currently but they can’t be as bad as they were against St Helens last time out, so I expect a much closer game.
We do, however, need wins after slipping out of the top six last weekend.
I’ve not seen so many Leeds Rhinos fans with tears in their eyes since that night at Old Trafford in 2015 when we clinched the treble than I did on Thursday with the return of our very own Marvel superhero Rob Burrow.
It was great to see him back on his beloved grass, and just seeing the love from his amazing family and from both sets of fans was a night to remember.
I did have to wonder when we had the only two props, both starting on the bench last week, and the first 20 minutes we were so outgunned up the middle, it was a joke.
It was not a game of high quality, on both sides, and the match officials are included in that. Watching some other games this week and the dreadful officiating, it’s no wonder fans are not turning up to games.
Wigan tomorrow and, after their mauling at Saints, they are going to come out swinging and wanting to put some pride back into their club.
We can’t afford to be our own worst enemy, squandering chances like we have done in some recent games but, if we win this one, maybe we can make the play-offs.
Not the greatest of performances against Huddersfield but a win nonetheless.
What it did show was great character and a will to work for each other. There were also some very promising youngsters on show once again with Morgan Gannon the standout. At only 17 years old, this kid has the world at his feet and the watching Rob Burrow must have been delighted seeing the new crop of talent giving their all for the shirt.
Rob being at Headingley, speaking to the fans and watching his children deliver the match ball was extra special. I know it has been said many times, but he is an inspiration to this current team, all the fans and a galvanising factor for the future ahead. A statue being commissioned is fitting and will be a special monument to what he continues to do for everyone who has had the privilege of seeing him play.
Next up is an out-of-sorts Wigan. We need to keep winning and the return of Matt Prior and Rhyse Martin will be very welcome. Our record at Wigan is not great so I hope we can get a win and climb the league ladder.
I probably won’t be the only person to say this, but the Huddersfield game was an array of emotions.
Before the game, we had the pleasure of being in the presence of Rob Burrow and his family for the launch of his book. There wasn’t a dry eye in the stadium. The game itself wasn’t the best; there were mistakes from both teams but the end result was a Rhinos win to cap off a superb night at Headingley.
Although it’s never good having players sitting on the sideline, we see the young ones coming through and that is happening right now with Morgan Gannon.
The lad is a talent and is going to go far. I wouldn’t be surprised if he pushes himself into World Cup contention for next year.
This week we come up against the old enemy in Wigan Warriors. They aren’t having the best of times currently but I’m pretty sure they’ll be up for it on Wednesday.
It’s great to have Rhyse Martin, Matt Prior, Jack Broadbent and Cameron Smith back for what is a must-win game in terms of our play-off credentials.
Leeds Rhinos had a good win last Thursday against Huddersfield Giants.
The scoreline of 18-12 suggests that the game was a lot closer than it actually was. Another injury, to Ash Handley, and a sin binning for Zane Tetevano were par for the course whenever Leeds play this season.
The youngsters are certainly not disappointing when called upon to play their part. Morgan Gannon was excellent and Jarrod O’Connor and Sam Walters both put in good performances.
It was good to see Callum McLelland playing a full game with Rob Lui by his side for most of it. If the Rhinos can get a win against Wigan tomorrow they could have a chance of finishing in a play-off spot.
Wigan are there for the taking with Willie Isa suspended and some injuries in the camp.
Even though they have some players back in the squad, they seem to lose the plot on the field quite often.
With Matt Prior and Rhyse Martin back out there after an enforced rest I think this is one game that we can and should win.
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