Our opening game of the 2020 Super League season, against Hull FC, started well and lasted for 20 minutes of the first half, but then we ended up capitulating and let Hull get on top of us.
The missed-tackle count was totally unacceptable for a team of Leeds’ calibre.
There were some positives to come out of it.
Cameron Smith’s performance was excellent, and Luke Gale showed glimpses of what we have missed and looked good with Richie Myler on the field with him.
Hopefully, Konrad Hurrell is not too serious with regard to his head injury; he will be a miss if he’s out. We missed Ava Seumanufagai.
Onwards to Huddersfield on Sunday who had a very good win over in Catalans last weekend.
This one will be very tough.
A new signing wouldn’t go amiss but, as the club has said, they don’t feel the need to rush this.
That can be only a good thing – to find an astute player with the calibre of what Trent Merrin brought to the club.
It was great to see another large crowd at Emerald Headingley Stadium for the first ever Super League double header.
Hull FC were the Rhinos’ opposition and I think most Leeds fans just wanted to see a good performance, a win would have been a bonus.
The first 20 minutes looked promising and Leeds were managing to contain the big forwards of Hull. Then Hull scored two tries and that seemed to break the Rhinos.
Things weren’t helped by Stevie Ward and Konrad Hurrell leaving the field. This meant that players were playing out of position
It was difficult to judge how Luke Gale will fit into the side, as the forwards did not create any go-forward, to give him space so that he could use his creative talent.
Next up is a visit to the John Smith’s Stadium at Huddersfield.
This has not been a happy hunting ground over the years and a great improvement will be needed by the Rhinos to overcome a Giants side who had a very convincing win over Catalans Dragons in the first round.
Well, well, well, that proved to be an extremely poor start to the season for Leeds.
Hull proved to be formidable in both attack and defence, whereas Leeds were poor in both attack and defence.
Yes, we got near Hull’s tryline on a couple of occasions, but it’s up to Leeds to break down the opposition’s defence.
Leeds didn’t have any answers apart from once in the entire 80 minutes. Leeds offered up nothing in attack, Luke Gale was putting up aimless nothing kicks, just as Richie Myler does.
Leeds played far too lateral for my liking and were absolutely hopeless in defence – if you can call it defending.
Just what have Leeds worked on in pre-season? It’s a repeat of last season for me, yes it’s the first game, but we’re getting the usual drivel of ‘it’s a process’ and ‘we need to fix it up’.
Leeds still have too many average players in the team and the coach Richard Agar is a Poundland coach for me who isn’t up to coaching a club of Leeds’ size.
I don’t think he will survive the season, in my opinion. So on to Sunday’s game at Huddersfield, I’m sorry to say I can’t see anything other than another loss for Leeds.
Ever the optimist, I hoped at the very least to be competitive and maybe get the win, but neither of these happened.
We were outplayed in all departments by a well-drilled Hull FC side on Sunday who stuck to their game plan, played to their strengths and adapted to the variable conditions better than us.
At times it was like men against boys with all of the pre-season optimism fading from the team and the home support through silly penalties.
This has become a recurring theme for us in the past, alongside missed tackles, poor goal line defence and bad game management.
Our half-backs went missing, admittedly behind a losing pack with nobody willing to take the game by the scruff of the neck to halt Hull FC’s momentum.
The loss of Ava Seumanufagai pre-game then Konrad Hurrell and Stevie Ward in the first half didn’t help our cause as players were then forced out of position.
On the plus side we weren’t nilled, it was the first game and it’s a marathon not a sprint! Giants on Sunday and two points please!
Not the result and certainly not the performance we were all hoping for as we begin our 2020 journey.
Credit, firstly goes to Hull, who were very good. They are a big and fast team with a spine that has been together for a few years now.
For parts of the game, especially the first 20 minutes, we looked to be matching them but we always looked like the team who would buckle first.
Without Ava Seumanufagai we looked very light in the middles and the bench did not carry any real cover for the starting props.
We all know we need another prop for this team but I think the result has left us all in no doubt.
The real challenge now is finding one.
Finally, having watched most of the round one games the new play of the ball rule appears to have made little difference.
The amount of players still making no attempt to play the ball with their foot is still disproportionately high.
It’s pretty much pot luck on the scrum decision. Players and referees need to do much better.
Well, last week I asked for two points, and I ended up with four. Eventually!
After a few handbags on the fourth minute the crowd got into full voice, and I had high hopes.
How wrong I was. A few missed chances may have contributed to giving Hull FC some momentum, but I think we need to put Sonny Bill Williams’ wage on our try line to help sure it up.
Our defence at times was abysmal, embarrassing, and had no cohesion to it.
What have we been working on in pre-season? They looked like strangers not a squad that’s been in training since November.
Matt Prior was the stand-out player I thought, playing the whole first half and a good chunk of the second 40 minutes, before taking a rest.
Robert Lui looked lost most of the game and like he had never played alongside Luke Gale, who himself had a good first 20 minutes, skimming the line and bringing players on, but he was missing in action for most of the second half, it was painful watching.
We need to bring back some biff in the middle.