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Rhinos In Freefall
Posted by southstander on August 11 2006 - 22:34:44

Freefall

As I settle down with my traditional after match whisky, and tune into Classic FM on my digital radio, I am trying to keep a grip on rationality and reality. Having just witnessed my side capitulate to basement side Wigan, and stumble to a fifth consecutive defeat for the first time since the dark days of Dean Bell in the mid 1990's, I am finding it increasingly difficult.

The loss to Castleford was embarassing, and the following week to Saints unlucky. The exit in the cup semi-final to the Giants was a shocker and last weeks first loss at the KC to Hull FC frustrating. But tonights loss to Wigan was totally unacceptable and signals a total loss of confidence in a side which up until five weeks ago looked like they could be world beaters!

We bring you all of the action here......

18

Rhinos

v

Warriors

20

SLXI - Round 24

11th August 2006

Rhinos In Freefall

The Rhinos were still without Danny McGuire, who is now rumoured to be unlikely to play for the Rhinos again this season as his shin-splints fail to respond to treatment, Willie Poching, Lee Smith (dropped), Danny Williams and Chris Feather. Toopi and Thackray made their home debuts and Jordan Tansey must have been surprised to get the nod at full back. SouthStander.com sponsored Ashley Gibson was on the wing and up against ex-Rhino Mark Calderwood. Noble had his main players available, but on paper it looked like a Rhinos win was there for the taking.

Wigan set off like a house on fire. They were playing at a pace, and with a ferocity that you felt that they would be unable to sustain for eighty, it was just a matter of the Rhinos soaking it up and hitting them on the counter attack.

On five minuts the visitors got the breakthrough that their posession and go-forward deserved. A forced Leeds dropout, into a strong wind, was returned well and Orr went through a gap before flinging the ball wide to Vaeliki to cross unopposed. Dobson missed the conversion but the decent Wigan crowd needed no encouragement to go bonkers. The Wigan forwards were taking the game into the Rhinos faces with Paleaaesina gaining massive yards with each carry.

On twenty, Tansey put in a last ditch tackle on O'Loughlin as he crossed the Leeds line and dislodged the ball. The video referee ruled 'NO TRY' for the Warriors and Tansey had stopped a certain six points...was our luck changing.

Four minutes later and following good Rhinos pressure we levelled the scored. A Wigan knock-down was picked up by Lauiti'iti who went twenty metres down the blind side and managed to ground the ball a fraction of a second before going into touch. This time the video referee hit the right button and as Sinfield failed to convert into a strong wind we were all square.


Two Tries

Four minutes later and Leeds got their best score of the game, from an unlikely source. Kirke received the ball from Thackray on the half way line and stepped past two tackles before taking on Ashton and diving over for a sensational fifty metres prop forwards try. Sinfield converted for a 10-4 lead - this was much more like it and the lads seemed to be gaining a little confidence.

A Rhinos mess-up from the kick-off allowed Orr to hack forward and nearly score before he crashed into the hoardings in-front of the new stand. He grounded the ball a split second too late and was on the line and we all breathed a huge sigh of relief. It looked like a six point half-time lead but an unfortunate 'offside' decision against Lauiti'iti just before the hooter allowed Dobson to salvage a two pointer for 10-6, but at least we were in the lead.

Our luck was holding within three minutes of the restart when McAvoy spilled the ball in-goal when it looked easier for him to have scored, perhaps he felt some sympathy for his early season employers.


Made a Difference
On forty-seven we looked to have done too much for a tiring Wigan as a Sinfield break took us close. As the ball came loose, and went backwards, it was picked up by Toopi who used Burrow, Lauiti'iti and Senior to move the ball left and into the hands of Ashley Gibson who went over in the corner. Sinfield failed to convert but it was now 14-6 and we were two scores clear. It should have been enough to hold on to...but it wasn't!

With half an hour remaining the Wigan 'never say die' attitude paid dividends as the ball passed through many sets of hands before Ashton went over. The Donson goal reduced arrears to just two points.

Those two points were gained as the result of a high tackle by Jamie Peacock on his old mate Stuart Fielden and Dobsons penalty. It was 14-14 with twenty-five minutes to play. It was game on.

On sixty-three a woeful Rhinos defence and great Wigan attacking play saw the Rhinos punished for coughing up posession on the Warriors twenty. Great hands and determination finally saw Calderwood cross near the posts and the Dobson goal gave the visitors a six point lead.

With five minues to go, good Rhinos posession and some composure in the opponents half for a change saw a Sinfield pin-point accurate grubber collected and grounded by Gibson for his second. The try was right in the corner and Sinfields best effort at the conversion hit the far post and bounced into the field of play.

The Warriors managed to hold off the Rhinos onslaught for the last four minutes and clung on to a 20-18 victory and two immensly precious superleague survival points.

This was a game that we should have won but some woeful handling, a lack of composure in the opponents forty and a cataogue of defensive errors all contributed to extending our losing run to the worst in over ten years. The last time we lost five on the bounce was at Oldham, a day which saw me almost get 'lamped' by Dean Bell for shouting for his resignation as the sides walked to the dressing rooms at the old Watersheddings. I stopped short of calling for Smiths head tonight, but this was a very poor performance and an immense disappointment.

I can't see where the next win is coming from as we have no passion, very little composure, and no apparent will to win. We badly miss the inspiration of Danny McGuire, and we are dropping so much ball it makes me wonder if we ever touch one in practice. Some of the tackling is awful and we have no imagination within the opponents twenty.

For the last five weeks we have not seen a side that is capable of getting to Old Trafford, and if by some miracle they do make it to the end of season showpiece, I think that we will be in for a massive hiding at the hands of Saints! It isn't a great time to be a Rhinos fan!


Man of the Match Poll

Points
Player%
10
Thackray54%
8
Gibson13%
6
Ellis10%
6
Lauiti'iti10%
4
Kirke8%
3
Burrow3%
2
Senior2%
2
Sinfield2%

See here for season standings.


Match Facts

Rhinos
Warriors
No.
Player
T
G
DG
No.
Player
T
G
DG
28
Tansey
29
Ashton
1
2
Donald
4
Calderwood
1
30
Toopi
4
Vaeliki
1
4
Senior
35
MAvoy
27
Gibson
2
3
Richards
13
Sinfield
1
6
Orr
7
Burrow
20
Dobson
4
18
Jones-Buchanan
37
Fielden
14
Millard
9
Higham
8
Bailey
10
Paleaaesina
10
Peacock
11
Hock
3
Walker
12
Fletcher
12
Ellis
13
O'Loughlin
9
Diskin
1
Radlinski
11
Lauiti'iti
1
18
Godwin
22
Kirke
1
8
Logan
29
Thackray
19
Hansen

Kick Off:
20:00
Half-Time:
10-06
Referee:
Ashley Klein
Crowd:
15,066


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