Two weeks ago we were struggling to make the top eight, now we’re going to win the league.
Well, maybe not, but hopefully now we really have started to turn this season around.
Of course it all counts for fuck all if we go to Widnes next week and lose as usual, but the last 120 minutes of rugby league produced by this club have been miles apart from the previous 400 and odd this year.
We were begging last week to carry on where we left off against Hull and, if anything, we stepped it up a gear or two.
It’s a funny game, rugby league, but it’s also quite a simple one.
For all its buzzwords and tactical ploys, it can be stripped down to the very basic principles of running faster and tackling harder than the opposition.
When you combine that ‘intensity’ with a bit of intelligence, also known as ‘game management’ these days, you can pretty much take over the world.
Or at least Leeds.
The most pleasing aspect of the victory is probably that Leeds weren’t even bad. In fact, they carried on their rich form they’ve showed since getting bummed at Cas. They played very well and had they met us a fortnight ago would’ve probably put 50 past us.
But they didn’t.
They played us at exactly the wrong time from their point of view.
Having spent the first two months of the season watching our beloved Wire roll over and let oppositions tickle our bellies, Friday was a real statement. We’re not going to be walked over anymore.
Well, hopefully anyway.
Literally from the first minute, our pack signalled their intent when Ben Westwood laid out Liam Sutcliffe as he got a kick away.
It was high, it was late, and it warranted his Sin Binning. It could’ve been a red on another day, but he was fully committed to the tackle and it’s impossible to stop your momentum when you’re 15 stone and flying full speed into contact.
Sutcliffe sadly wouldn’t return to the field and by the time Westwood did, we were 4-0 down thanks to a Tom Briscoe try after a bit of sleight of hand by Danny McGuire at dummy half fooled our goal line D.
Not to labour the point, but it’s in this sort of situation this season that we’ve seen our lads just capitulate.
And that’s where that intelligence we spoke about came in.
Where we have previously thrown the ball out of our arses and forced offloads that aren’t on, we kept it simple, for the most part.
Ashton Sims divides opinion amongst Wire fans – even amongst the contributors to this blog – but he arguably had his best game in a Wire shirt last night. His little attempted stamp on Cuthbertson’s hand was top shithousing and he didn’t shy away from his opposite number all game. When he cuts his stupid offloads out and runs straight and hard, he can be an effective prop and he really put a shift in in defence.
Chris Hill and Joe Westerman were there usual immense selves, hitting the line and hard and Jack Hughes was back to his usual standard, again cutting the errors out of his game and hitting good lines off his half backs, all contributing to punching holes in Leeds’ D and gaining good field position.
On the back of that, Patton and Gidley came up with a few simple, but perfectly executed kicks and suddenly, we were winning.
Ryan Atkins’ second try was probably a bit dubious on second viewing, but fuck em. Some of us still aren’t over that Richie Myler offside decision from 2011, so cry us a river.
He thought he was in for a hat-trick against his hometown club a few moments before half-time, but it was ruled out by the video referee.
A Tom Lineham try just after the break extended our lead and Patton’s influence on the game grew.
Having been dropped a few weeks ago, he was out to prove a point and really bossed the team around the park.
His kicking game was good all night, better than we’ve had all year, and pretty much spot on in parts, forcing repeat sets and pinning Leeds back in their own half, in addition of course to the try assist.
He was calling the shots ahead of the vastly more experience Gidley and between them, they controlled the game without being too expansive.
Leeds did hit back with a couple tries to bring it back to 18-14 but Gidley touched down before it got to squeaky bum time and Patton’s drop goal sealed the victory.
The fixture run in over Easter and beyond looks, on paper, quite favourable.
The emergence of Salford and Castleford as top four contenders along with the likes of Wakefield and Leigh in the top 8 has blown the season wide open, but you have to expect at least a couple of those teams will fade away as the season wears on.
If we can carry on this new found form into the next month or so, and with Saints and Hull looking wobbly in recent weeks, we really could/would/should be looking at stringing a few wins together and climbing up that table.