Having made the Grand Final with that great win at Wigan Warriors, I can see Leeds Rhinos finishing the job against St Helens on Saturday.
It reminds me a little of 2017, when they were well beaten at Castleford, who went on to take the League Leaders’ Shield, but dug in and ended up defeating the Tigers at Old Trafford.
This time, they hit the buffers earlier in the campaign, and for whatever reason, it looks clear to me that the team wasn’t playing for Richie Agar.
Rohan Smith has come in and settled things down, and credit to him for that and to Gary Hetherington for the appointment, but I don’t buy into him being some sort of coaching wizard.
I think some good players are just doing what they weren’t doing earlier in the season – operating with confidence and enjoyment, scrambling well and playing with spirit.
That was evident at Wigan, who have had a very encouraging season and have plenty to build going forward.
I really like what Matty Peet has done, although I thought playing Tommy Leuluai as the main organiser was the wrong call, because it doesn’t suit him and negated the effect of Harry Smith. I’d have switched Sam Powell to seven.
There’s a big job on for Leeds, because in beating Salford, who gave it a real go and were hampered by the loss of Andy Ackers, Saints showed they have that tenacity, sticking power and ability to edge the tight games.
But the Rhinos are in form, and given they share Saints’ Super League record of three successive titles, have the added incentive of denying them a fourth and so staying in the record books.
I’m going for Leeds by eight.
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