Last night Leeds’ season hit another bump in the road as once again a third consecutive win alluded them as remarkably strugglers Toulouse notched their third win in a row something Leeds haven’t done since last season.
Tonight was always going to be a challenge in the heat and with the players Leeds had missing but it is draining to see some great form stopped by this defeat especially with a difficult game on the horizon against Wigan.
But what exactly should we make of the defeat? Here’s our five talking points:
1. Pack Pummelled
It was always going to be difficult in the heat for the Leeds middles but things were made worse by the fact the Rhinos only had one specialist prop in the side with the rest suspended. This enabled Toulouse to gain easy metres down the middle during the first half draining Leeds of energy and enabling them to play the match at a much greater speed than their opponents.
At the end of the days, when you don’t have the players available you simply don’t have the players. This is a mess of Leeds’ own making in terms of bans and is something the Rhinos need to fix and they sought a solution in Yusuf Aydin but didn’t use him.
2. Aydin must play against Wigan
There will be a logical reason behind loanee Yusuf Aydin’s bizarre absence tonight I’m sure – or at least I hope – but he has to play against Wigan next week.
The Warriors play the game at such space and if they get a roll on down the middle their speed will devastate Leeds if put on the backfoot. The Rhinos will want as much size as possible next week.
3. Learning Curve
Despite the loss it will have been a great experience for the likes of Max Simpson, Jack Sinfield, Corey Johnson, Jarrod O’Connor and Sam Walters all players I believe could have a big impact at Leeds moving forward.
They will certainly have gained character and plenty of lessons from the defeat today especially about what to do when on the back foot.
4. Rhinos continue to be hit and miss
The play-off dream is still a possibility but tonight of course was a major blow for the Rhinos. The one thing that screams out is the need for consistency.
All season Leeds have undercut good wins with surprise defeats – the loss to Salford in Rohan Smith’s first game comes to mind – and this is something that needs to change.
5. Squad thoughts
There is a need for consistency not just in terms of results but in the team selection. Leeds haven’t had that at all this season and it shows the need for better discipline but also the need for Leeds to continue to develop young players who can cover injured stars as well as finding durable signings who haven’t got a track record of injury.
Moving forward Leeds need a happy and healthy squad if Rohan Smith wants to achieve things at Headingley.