YEP Leeds Rhinos Jury: Surprise win a credit to JJB and gives Smith something to build on

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BACK-TO-BACK WINs may not have turned Leeds Rhinos’ season completely around, but they have certainly put the YEP fans’ jury in a better frame of mind.

After keeping a clean sheet against Hull KR with a depleted team, new boss Rohan Smith’s arrival this week and the prospect of some key players returning for the next game have our panel in optimistic mood.

Here they reflect on last week’s win, welcome Smith’s arrival and point out good signs from stand-off Blake Austin.

Tom Rhodes

Interim Leeds Rhinos coach Jamie Jones-Buchanan, centre, makes way tomorrow for new head coach Rohan Smith. Picture: Bruce Rollinson/NationalWorld.Interim Leeds Rhinos coach Jamie Jones-Buchanan, centre, makes way tomorrow for new head coach Rohan Smith. Picture: Bruce Rollinson/NationalWorld.
Interim Leeds Rhinos coach Jamie Jones-Buchanan, centre, makes way tomorrow for new head coach Rohan Smith. Picture: Bruce Rollinson/NationalWorld.

What a performance that was on Friday night.

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The performance against Hull KR is the best I’ve seen all season. I know we beat Wakefield by a hefty amount but, on Friday, I don’t think many of us thought we would beat Hull KR after seeing they were putting out an experienced squad.

There are still a few things to work on such as getting over the try line when we’re 10 metres out. But I have mentioned in previous articles about playing boring rugby and this time they did not do that, instead they threw the ball about and tried new things which looked good and gained us metres.

Man of the match for me on that night was definitely Blake Austin; decent kicking and excellent game management.

Incoming Leeds Rhinos head coach Rohan Smith. Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe/NationalWorld.Incoming Leeds Rhinos head coach Rohan Smith. Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe/NationalWorld.
Incoming Leeds Rhinos head coach Rohan Smith. Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe/NationalWorld.

Having Jack Sinfield by his side, they are starting to become a decent duo.

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We now have a week off owing to the Challenge Cup semi-finals so that gives Rohan plenty of time to build on that performance. We could have a few bodies back as well, such as Aidan Sezer and David Fusitu’a, JJB said in the post-match press conference.

It sounds like they are not far away and will be a great addition.

Oliver Limon

In-form Leeds Rhinos half-back Blake Austin. Picture: Bruce Rollinson/NationalWorld.In-form Leeds Rhinos half-back Blake Austin. Picture: Bruce Rollinson/NationalWorld.
In-form Leeds Rhinos half-back Blake Austin. Picture: Bruce Rollinson/NationalWorld.

Best wishes to Zak Hardaker. I wish him a speedy recovery following his seizure.

Leeds turned up with a very depleted squad post-Easter to face a buoyant Robins side who were ‘bob bob bobbin along’ with six wins on the bounce.

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JJB has really instilled pride back into the blue and amber shirt. The defence covered every blade of the Headingley grass and got their reward in keeping Rovers at zero. The atmosphere was reminiscent of our opening game of the season with the home crowd roaring their team on to victory.

Blake Austin led the attacking again and his kicking game created both panic and errors in the Rovers defence. He was well supported by Kruise Leeming whose kick led to our second try. Brad Dwyer’s devastating runs out of dummy-half were a constant thorn for a tiring KR side. The players enjoyed their well-deserved, post-match ovation; rightly so as it was a heroic effort. With a week’s rest, new coach and returning players, long may this win run continue.

There is a chance, with games against Salford and ‘Shakey Wakey’, of Leeds ‘moving on up’ the ladder.

Kendle Hardisty

A win on Friday was the last thing I expected!

KR have been on great form and we have been leaking tries so you expected only one thing. KR’s attack, however, was woeful. Their forward-pass count must have been a record.

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The game itself wasn’t a great advert for rugby league but the Rhinos put in their best performance of the season.

The young lads stepped up and the experienced players showed their quality.

Blake Austin had his best game for the Rhinos with some great kicking and control.

A timely week off for the lads. Rohan Smith will be joining up with the coaching staff this week.

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Some injured players may be in contention for Salford which would be timely. Wins against Salford and Wakefield for our next two games would be massive for confidence.

JJB has definitely changed something in the lads. I’m glad he is staying around the team as assistant. You can see he is well respected.

I hope Zak Hardaker and his family are well. It sounded horrible - the situation - and I hope to see him on the field soon.

Josh Morrow

I don’t think anyone thought we would be talking about two wins on the bounce a month or so ago - after some very dismal displays - never mind shutting out a Hull KR side that had won six on the bounce.

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I thought that Blake Austin really stepped up his game on Friday night, especially when carrying the ball and with his dangerous kicking game.

With Rohan Smith arriving next week and not having a game until May 15 away at Salford and a host of key players coming back from injury, it gives all Leeds fans hope that the future is bright at Headingley.

I wouldn’t be surprised when they travel to Salford if the likes of Adam Sezer, David Fusitu’a, and Richie Myler - just to name a few of the injured faces - are back along with the return of James Bentley and Zane Tetevano from suspension.

Smith is going to have the tough task of choosing who to leave out, with the way some players have performed, when all these players are back fit, rather than the tough task that Jamie Jones-Buchanan had of just finding players to fill out a squad.

Iain Sharp

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If you’d consulted the crystal ball a month ago and it predicted a 12-0 result in the Leeds versus Hull KR game, you’d have confidently lumped your house on the East Hull side.

Leeds pulled off the equivalent of the ‘looking busy whilst the new boss walks around the office’ routine, in anticipation of coach Rohan Smith arriving and, given that this will be the first game he’ll watch on video, Leeds produced perhaps their best performance of the season in nullifying the Rovers threats.

If only we’d known sooner that such a performance was all down to Blake Austin having a shave, in a sort of reverse of the biblical Sampson. Given the pre match set from DJ Pat Sharp and in anticipation of folks writing in, I’d like to publicly state I’m no relation (apparently his is a stage name anyway and isn’t imitation the sincerest form of flattery ?).

With the two cup semi-finals this week at the former home of Holbeck RFC (Elland Road), Leeds (men) have a blank week and our best wishes go to the Leeds women’s team in their Challenge Cup final against St Helens, as part of a triple header of games.

Khya Gott

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For the second week in a row I’m writing about a positive Rhinos result.

I didn’t expect much going into the game at the weekend, given Hull KR had won six games on the bounce and we had just about managed two wins in the whole of the season to date.

The scoreline, however, doesn’t reflect the game.

It was truly a competitive tie and our team, consisting mostly of youngsters, stuck their bodies on the line for 80 minutes in a terrific match.

We’ve needed the last two results for a while now and they came at a good time for us.

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If we can build on that, hopefully we can have a better second half of the season.

I didn’t expect to be saying this a week ago, but even eighth place feels better than where we have been this year.

With a few weeks training now and a new manager - Rohan Smith - coming to Leeds during that time, let’s hope we can build on the last two games and take the Super League points from Salford Red Devils when we travel to their place later this month.

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