YEP Jury: Newcastle was a Magical weekend all round for Leeds Rhinos
Newcastle proved a happy hunting ground again for Leeds Rhinos during Magic Weekend as Rohan Smith’s men took the game away from Castleford Tigers in the second half to win 34-20.
Here’s what our fans’ panel made of the big match:
Another great performance by the boys in the toon at St James’ Park over the weekend.
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It was a bit shaky in the first half, but once we got into the groove, we looked good.
Seeing Rob Burrow up in the stands and his lovely girls leading the team out made me feel very proud to support this great club.
One issue I did have with Rohan Smith’s pick of the team was the switch around of positions due to Kruise Leeming unfortunately picking up a foot injury. I don’t understand the decision to move around three players into other positions, I would have stuck Brad Dwyer on for the entire game.
A big shout out to Ash Handley who is without doubt the best player in that team this season, the pace of him speeding after Greg Eden just shows how committed he is.
Looking ahead, our fixture against Toulouse on Saturday will be extremely tough, with them coming back with a win against Wakefield.
On a side note, what a performance that was. It’ll be a hard task for the boys playing in a new stadium, but I’m sure we’ll grind out a win.
It’s a kind of magic.
It was wonderful to see Rob Burrow’s daughters lead the team out at Magic Weekend and fantastic motivation for the players to see him in the ground.
In quite a low key first half Leeds took an early lead with Matt Prior crashing over. Cas hit back twice, edging in front 10-6 at half-time.
In the second half, try-machine Ash Handley pulled us level, Aidan Sezer notched his first try for Leeds, bouncing off tackles at will to score.
Leeds then scored the try of the night with a great break from Liam Sutcliffe followed by a sublime kick for Richie Myler to score and to push us 22-10 in front.
Tries from James Bentley and Sutcliffe only added insult to injury. Castleford’s perfect record at Newcastle was over.
Cas did hit back but it was never going to be enough despite the late sin-binning for Sezer who had his best game for Leeds.
Leeds’ attack is taking all the plaudits at the moment, but credit must also go to the defence and with confidence high we are now pursuing a top-six place with relish.
Being down at half-time, most of us would be lying if we said we wouldn’t be shocked to go on and lose the game.
But the effort the players showed out there shows why they are starting to turn the ship around.
It was a big call to put Jarrod O’Connor in there at nine ahead of Brad Dwyer but he was outstanding. His workrate alongside Corey Johnson in the halves is what set the two teams apart in the end.
I think he can develop into a player in the mould of Brandon Smith over in the NRL, who can switch between playing hooker and a role as a hard working forward.
The left-hand side is looking very dangerous with Ash Handley scoring tries for fun and Liam Sutcliffe powering over from close range.
The right is also looking good for Leeds with David Fusitu’a and especially when Harry Newman is back from his ban.
The team has a real opportunity for back-to-back wins when they travel over to Toulouse on the weekend.
A win over there will set up a home game against Wigan nicely.
Hopefully, the sunburn and hangovers from the Magic Weekend weren’t too bad as the travelling Leeds fans basked in the beer and sunshine on Tyneside.
On the field, they were warmed by the performance of Leeds in what could have been a tricky game on paper against Castleford. Things are starting to look more like they should and the influence of Rohan Smith on the team is starting to show through. The win moves Leeds up to seventh in the League and folks’ ears are almost popping with the heights they’ve reached.
This weekend sees the Loiners taking the long trip to Southern France, in a game that is going to be another ‘scorcher’ given the weather conditions in that part of the world at this time of year.
Sadly, I won’t be going to Toulouse, but already the second French team have brought more to the league than any of the other promoted sides in recent years and one of the clear flaws of the promotion and relegation system is that it is both difficult to build and sustain their place in the League for more than a single season.
At least Catalan got three years to establish themselves in the competition … why not Toulouse?
The character and desire Rhinos fans have been looking for was exactly what we saw on Saturday.
Losing at half-time, the Rhinos could have easily crumbled and shied away from the challenge.
Rohan has changed the mentality of this team and has given them belief to go out, and play their best rugby.
Stand outs for me at the weekend were Cameron Smith, who was excellent in attack and Aidan Sezer who had his best performance in a Rhinos shirt.
It was very fitting timing for our number seven to play well while wearing the specially made shirts in honour of Rob Burrow.
It’s another huge game for Leeds as they travel to Toulouse at the weekend. This is a massive opportunity for the Rhinos to keep pushing for a play-off spot.
Toulouse showed at the weekend they aren’t done yet and want to secure their Super League status.
They aren’t going to lie down, but if we carry on with these performances, there is no doubt we’ll come away from France with the points.
As a Rhinos fan, or a rugby league fan really, anything that is shared about Rob Burrow has me in bits. But seeing his face on the big screen at St James’ Park and the shirt his children designed for the game was the cherry on top of a great Saturday.
After two tremendous games, could the Rhinos live up to it for the final game of Saturday’s line-up? Well, they did just that.
Coming back from behind at the break, five tries in the second half and a massive two points was a brilliant result for us.
After the Challenge Cup knockout earlier this season, I felt a lot of Rhinos fans, myself included, wrote the season off. Honestly, it felt like the season was over, but here we are sitting in seventh following a Magic Weekend win.
Nine games left, four being against teams below us in the season, I’m hoping we can end the season on a high.
We are three points behind Castleford Tigers now in fifth, and without jinxing it, I’m hopeful we can catch them and ultimately, finish in the play-off positions.