Talking points from Leeds Rhinos’ golden point victory over Castleford Tigers
Here are five talking points after Leeds Rhinos got back to winning ways with a golden point success against gutsy Castleford Tigers.
1: The victory was worth more than two points to Leeds. Had they lost, from 20-4 ahead with 20 minutes left, it would have been a tough blow to recover from, but they should now be able to kick on.
Their next five games are Hull KR (away), Coral Challenge Cup (possibly against a lower division team), Huddersfield Giants (home), Wakefield Trinity (away) and Hull KR (home) so they have a real opportunity to get on a roll.
2: If they play like they did for most of last week’s game they should be all right, but how far in front do Rhinos need to get before victory is assured?
They have thrown away too many leads this year and if Paul McShane hadn’t gone for glory in the 80th minute it would have been more heartbreak. Composure when ahead is something they are lacking.
3: Tigers have lost three of their last four games, but don’t write them off. They have a long injury list, including three of their four specialist pivots, but still came close to mounting one of Betfred Super League’s great fightbacks.
They were uncharacteristically poor in the first half and slow starts are a problem, but over the final 30 minutes of normal time they were excellent.
Peter Mata’utia’s switch into the halves, with youngster Calum Turner coming on at full-back, was key to that and will have given coach Daryl Powell something to think about.
4: A draw would have been a fair result. Golden point extra-time was certainly exciting, but so was the last 10 minutes and in both sudden-death league games this year the team who have kicked off lost without getting possession of the ball. It’s not a fair system. If it’s going to continue, both teams should receive one point, with a bonus to whoever scores in extra-time.
5: Cas have defensive problems on their right-edge. That’s where Leeds are strongest and if Rhinos can get quick ball to Konrad Hurrell and Ash Handley they will be a regular source of tries.
From Leeds’ perspective, it is also encouraging to see Trent Merrin in such impressive form and, it seems, enjoying himself.