2020 Review: Leeds Rhinos

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Our 2020 Super League review series today looks at Leeds, with Andrew Ferguson taking apart their campaign as they reached the top echelons of the table once more.

After two below-standard seasons for the successful Leeds outfit, where they ran 9th in 2018 and 8th in 2019, programming returned to normal in 2020 as the Rhinos camped themselves in the top 4 for the majority of the season.

They won the Challenge Cup in a nail biting victory over Salford, 17-16, but their form from that point on became inconsistent and ultimately ended their Premiership hopes early.

Overall though, it was a better season than the previous two - with the club back at the top end of the table.

Turning Point

Round 14 v Catalans. With Leeds having won 7 of their 10 Super League games, they went into their match against Catalans fielding a team made up largely of rookies, so as to rest their stars for the upcoming Challenge Cup Semi Final against Wigan (which they won). The Dragons beat Leeds 34-6. Leeds again rested their stars prior to the Challenge Cup Final and again lost, this time 32-6 to Warrington. After winning the Challenge Cup, Leeds failed to win back-to-back games for the rest of the season, eventually losing their semi-final 14-26 to Catalans.

What Worked

Ash Handley. The Rhinos Winger bagged 19 tries in 18 games in 2020, 14 in the Super League, which was more than any other player. His prolific ability to cross the stripe meant the Rhinos would often target his side of the field and would regularly be rewarded with points.

What Didn't Work

Player Rotation. While its commonplace in the Super League, especially when resting players for upcoming big games, it can sometimes bring about inconsistency and that is exactly what happened to Leeds in 2020. They lost 3 games when resting their stars and it hampered their chances of building momentum leading into the finals, culminating in a 26-14 loss to Catalans in the Semi-Final, ending their season.

Best Player

Konrad Hurrell and Ash Handley formed a lethal edge combination in 2020 which produced 12 tries in the 10 games that they played together in 2020 and 25 tries between the two of them for the year.

Rookies

6 players made their Super League debuts with the Rhinos in 2020. Loui McConnell played just the 1 game. Corey Hall, Winger Liam Tindall and scrum half Jack Broadbent all played 3 games each while hooker Jarrod O'Connor and back rower Sam Walters both played 4 matches.

Looking Ahead

Leeds have let a few players go, seemingly to free up space for some juniors and to build up some capital in order to buy some prominent players down the line. Adam Cuthbertson's 6 years at the club has come to an end as he moves to York, Muizz Mustapha who was on loan, will return to Hull KR while Rhys Evans (Bradford) and Wellington Albert (Keighley) are both departing the club.

The Rhinos have yet to make any singings for 2021. Given their improved performance in 2020, they look set to remain at the top end of the ladder again for next year.

2020 results

RoundDateOppositionResultScoreCoachCaptainVenue
SL R1Feb 2ndHull FCL 4 - 30AgarWardEmerald Headingley
SL R3Feb 14thHull KRW52 - 10AgarGaleEmerald Headingley
SL R4Feb 22ndSalfordW22 -  8AgarGaleAJ Bell
SL R5Feb 28thWarringtonW36 -  0AgarGaleEmerald Headingley
SL R2Aug 2ndHuddersfieldW27 - 26AgarGaleEmerald Headingley
SL R8Aug 9thSt HelensL 0 - 48AgarGaleEmerald Headingley
SL R9Aug 16thWiganL10 - 28AgarGaleTotally Wicked
SL R10Aug 29thSalfordW50 - 12AgarGaleHalliwell Jones
SL R12Sep 11thHuddersfieldW13 - 12AgarGaleTotally Wicked
CC QFSep 18thHull KRW48 - 18AgarGaleTotally Wicked
SL R13Sep 24thHull KRW41 - 16AgarGaleHalliwell Jones
SL R14Sep 30thCatalansL 6 - 34AgarCuthbertsonEmerald Headingley
CC SFOct 3rdWiganW26 - 12AgarGaleTotally Wicked
SL R18Oct 8thHull FCW40 - 22AgarGaleEmerald Headingley
SL R16Oct 13thWarringtonL 6 - 32AgarCuthbertsonHalliwell Jones
CC FOct 17thSalfordW17 - 16AgarGaleWembley Stadium
SL R17Oct 23rdSt HelensL 8 - 40AgarDwyerTotally Wicked
SL R18Oct 26thCastlefordW28 - 24AgarGaleEmerald Headingley
SL R19Oct 29thWakefieldL 6 - 30AgarGaleTotally Wicked
SL R11Nov 1stWakefieldW20 - 18AgarDwyerMobile Rocket
SL SFNov 13thCatalansL14 - 26AgarGaleHalliwell Jones