The numbers behind Leeds Rhinos’ worst start to a season in the summer era

Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com

Yesterday’s Challenge Cup defeat to Castleford leaves Leeds with just one win from their opening seven games.

In only one season prior have they boasted this record and that was in 2019 with a sole win over Salford in their third game of the season acting as their only triumph of their opening seven fixtures that year. It wouldn’t be until the Rhinos’ ninth game that campaign that Leeds would pick up a second win of the season in golden point against Castleford.

Now in a similar situation, 10th in the league and out of the Challenge Cup, plenty of people are trying to dissect what is going wrong at Headingley and with Leeds’ star-studded squad.

So, we’re looking at the numbers behind Leeds’ current plight and you may be surprised by some of the statistics.

For example, many have made the assumption that Leeds’ pack isn’t good enough. Phil Clarke notably made this assessment ahead of Leeds’ game with Salford last week which would prove to be Richard Agar’s last in charge. Equally, Castleford coach Lee Radford said after yesterday’s game that Leeds’ decision to play down the middle played into the Tigers’ hands implying that he thought his middles had the better of the Rhinos’.

However, remarkably Leeds have made the third most metres in the league with 7380 registered in their opening six league fixtures. That’s behind only Champions St Helens on 7825 and Huddersfield on 8169.

Curiously, Leeds still only have the ninth best average gain with just 6.87 metres made per carry showing the struggles of the Leeds attack despite the metres made in total.

Speaking of which, notably despite making nearly as many metres as Champions St Helens, the Rhinos have scored half as many tries in the league with their tally of 16 being the lowest in the competition whilst St Helens boast the most with 33.

Interestingly, Leeds’ are also only eighth for offloads in the league with 44. The Rhinos traditionally are an offloading team and their success was built on that. However, with just 44 offloads registered in 2022, there seems to be a lack of creativity in the Rhinos attack or at least an unwillingness to play off the cuff.

Richard Agar spoke after the Catalans’ defeat about trying to recreate that Leeds DNA but it seems it continues to allude the Rhinos at this moment.

Leeds have also been awarded the fewest amount of penalties at 32. Meanwhile, Champions St Helens have been awarded the most with 49. Perhaps this speaks to the speed at which the two teams play. Whilst St Helens play with such pace team’s are forced to give penalties away, maybe the Rhinos aren’t putting opponents under enough pressure so far this campaign. On the flip side, Leeds and Castleford have received the most cards in the league with six yellow and one red a piece. However, Brad Dwyer’s yellow in the cup yesterday leaves Leeds with one more in all competitions.

Turning to defence, Leeds have the third most missed tackles in the league with 162 making it too easy for their opponents to get through their defensive line which is something we saw yesterday when Castleford burst clear numerous times including their opening try from Jake Trueman.

With a game against the Champions waiting for Leeds next week, it’s clear that there’s a lot for interim boss and Leeds legend Jamie Jones-Buchanan to fix in a short period or there may be even more disparity between Leeds and Saints where the stats are concerned.

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