OPINION | Will Leeds’ Attacking Issues Prove Costly?

A lack of organisation, a poor attacking system and panicking under pressure are some of the most common criticisms of Leeds regarding their shortcomings in attack, all of which are reasonably based on the evidence thus far.

Their failure to even attempt a drop-goal to level the scores in the dying minutes at Hull FC two weeks ago even though they were positioned almost perfectly to do so is a fine example of that.

A look at the stats show that something isn’t quite clicking too. Leeds have scored 41 tries in the 12 games they have played, an average of just 3.4 per game which is the 5th best tries per game record in the top 8 as things stand.

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In comparison, table toppers St. Helens have scored 74 tries in 13 games at an average of 5.7 tries per game, while Wigan have scored 62 tries in 12 games at an average of 5.1 per game, showing just how much more dangerous the two stand out sides of the year have been.

Should this trend of not scoring enough points or making the most of their opportunities continue, then the Rhinos will surely make things harder for themselves in the back end of the year.

Having been on the wrong end of narrow scorelines against Castleford, Wigan and Hull FC, all teams who will be competing alongside Leeds for the top positions in the league, they now find themselves behind two of those three teams in the league.

With over half of the regular season already played, the split for the ‘eights’ will soon be upon us so the fight for a top four finish will only heat up from this point.

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With St. Helens and Wigan looking like shoo-ins for two of those places, there will be four, possibly five if Wakefield can rediscover their early season form, teams battling it out for the remaining spots so the Rhinos will have to find some consistency, get some rhythm in their game and make sure they start to win the hard-fought contests if they are to secure four home games in the Super 8’s.

However, there is no need for Leeds to worry yet. After all, they do have a game in hand which, as things stand, if they win would see them go just one point behind in-form Warrington and extend the gap between themselves and Hull FC to three points.

But, you can be certain that being involved in tight battles week in, week out is a habit that Brian McDermott and the players will want to get out of sooner rather than later.

Not only does it have an impact on the players physically- as can be seen by the amount of injuries and absentees the Rhinos have had to deal with this season- but also mentally, especially when they are on the losing side.

Finding the formula that allows Leeds to become more free-flowing with the ball in hand will also be something that they will want to discover too; it would make life much more comfortable if they do.

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We know the Rhinos have the quality to improve in attack and have said they are confident that they will get it right soon.

The likes of Joel Moon and Adam Cuthbertson- who was out with a broken hand for a long spell- both play a big part in Leeds’ attack when it is going well, but neither have been at their best.

Likewise, hooker Matt Parcell hasn’t yet reached the levels that saw him named in the 2017 Dream Team but, as was the case last year, he may have more of an influence in the warmer months when the pitches get a little firmer, which is when he believes he produces his best rugby.

The positive thing for Leeds is that they aren’t far off getting it right.

They have been impressive defensively and have been able to pick up wins on the back of that, but now need to find a balance between having a mean defence and an equally as effective attack.

If they can do that, then they should be able to build towards having a strong second half of the season and perhaps look at retaining their Super League crowns.

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