YEP Jury: Trent Merrin leads the way in encouraging derby-day display from Leeds Rhinos

Trent Merrin.
Trent Merrin.
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Our fans’ panel have their say on Leeds Rhinos’ 18-10 victory at Castleford Tigers and look ahead to Friday’s relegation clash with Hull KR.

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Ava Seumanufagai reaches for Cory Aston.

Ava Seumanufagai reaches for Cory Aston.

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ANDREW SUTCLIFFE

So the Catalans Dragons game wasn’t a fluke!

Beating Castleford in their own back yard is no easy feat and I doubt many gave us any serious chance on recent form. I think this game shows how far we have come in recent weeks and for once there is some genuine optimism.

Liam Watts is held by Liam Sutcliffe.

Liam Watts is held by Liam Sutcliffe.

Defensively we have become difficult to score against and four tries conceded in two games shows that.

Yes, we made it hard for ourselves with some interesting pass options and Ben Thaler appeared to miss anything Castleford did wrong but the win was deserved.

There were strong games from all the forwards and the two half-backs who appear to complement each other well.

There is a glimmer of a gap now between us and the bottom and depending on how results go this week could ease this further. Back to Headingley on Friday for the Hull KR game and another massive two points up for grabs. If we play like we have been doing recently then I can see a comfortable victory. Hopefully none of our ex-players come back to haunt us.

THOMAS LAWRENCE

Last Friday it was like watching a different Leeds team – these recent changes have made a great instant impact!

First of all, in Trent Merrin we have a real leader on the pitch – just look at how the players all ran to each other and share slaps on the back after forcing Castleford errors, just look at the passion on the final hooter! Where has this been all season?

Secondly, in Robert Lui we have an organised half-back who makes Richie Myler’s job easier and takes a lot of pressure off of him. I was also very impressed by our defensive resilience last Friday – Castleford genuinely never really looked like scoring for over an hour. We also took our chances to score some neatly created tries off the back of effective game management.

Awkward one for us on Friday night now – a third successive win will really pull us away from trouble, but playing against a team of ex-Leeds players who all have points to prove will make things difficult. Nonetheless, if we maintain the standards of the last two games then we should have too much for Hull KR.

LUKE CROSSFIELD

We certainly had the eye of the tiger last Friday night. Our pack really set the platform for a very well deserved victory at the Jungle.

To say he had landed back from New Zealand two days before – Ava Seumanufagai put a massive shift in.

The goal line defence in the first half especially was superb. You can see the team are playing for each other now and you have to credit Richard Agar for that.

The way we didn’t lose control after two quick tries was pleasing.

I found Daryl Powell’s ‘tough call against us comment’ very bizarre when they comfortably won the penalty count and their first try was from a forward pass.

I am relieved to see him not coming back to Headingley as head coach.

We need to keep the foot on the gas against Hull KR on Friday and a win would give us some breathing space from the bottom.

Our points difference could prove to be vital in the relegation battle however if we could get ourselves on a run of victories a top -ive position is not out of the question just yet.

KATIE BURROWS

I was hopeful for a win last week, but I don’t think I actually thought we’d manage it. Castleford were poor, but our defence in the first half was what won it for us – it was like watching a different team to what we’ve seen for most of this season.

We’re certainly playing better under Richard Agar, despite still making some of the same errors each week.

While I’m still not certain Agar is the right man for the job – not to mention whether he wants the position on a permanent basis – it’s interesting to read what current and former players have to say.

Trent Merrin has openly backed Agar this week, and former Rhino Richie Mathers tweeted speaking highly of him after the game on Friday. Based on recent performances, it’s hard to disagree with them, but it feels like there won’t be an official announcement on the head coach position until the end of the season.

It’s the Hull KR match on Friday and is huge for both teams. A win would just about secure our place in Super League for next year – here’s hoping for more of the same from us this week.

TIM NUTTALL

That felt brilliant on Friday night; it felt like the team and the fans had re-connected somehow. Almost as if the transfer activity of a week ago has pressed ‘re-set’ on our season; whatever it is, this looks like a different team we are watching. The guts and determination not to let Cas score was brilliant to see.

Trent Merrin continues to be inspired by having the captaincy, Adam Cuthbertson and Ava Seumanufagai were unbelievable, Ava had got off a plane 48 hours before and played just shy of an hour.

James Donaldson tackled his socks off when he came on, Jack Walker looked sharp, I could go on, it was just an all round excellent team performance and the partnership between Robert Lui and Richie Myler looks to be bedding in nicely.

Credit has to go to Richard Agar, he has taken things back to basics and has definitely created some values and a team ethic that he expects.

I would be amazed if conversations about next year haven’t happened.

Confidence has to be high going into the game with Hull KR – a win and perhaps instead of looking below, start to look up?