WHEN four of Yorkshire’s half-dozen Super League clubs each have just one win or less as we approach Easter, you soon realise these are not heady days for the county’s sides.
That was the alarming statistic heading into this round of games – a seventh fixture for some – and it certainly paints a sorry picture.
Indeed, rarely can so many of Yorkshire’s teams all have struggled so much at the same time.
Granted, the likes of Wakefield Trinity and Hull KR – subjected to the Qualifiers last term – were always expected to endure difficult starts especially the latter with the known absence of influential captain Terry Campese and former England hooker Shaun Lunt due to injuries.
However, no one could have predicted defending champions Leeds Rhinos and play-off rivals Huddersfield Giants doing it so tough, too, each securing just a solitary victory from their first five Super League games.
Admittedly, a raft of injuries has ravaged them both so far, but still...
Castleford Tigers and Hull FC – in sixth and seventh respectively after last weekend’s results – are comparative high-fliers having both secured two wins each before last night’s latest round.
Combined, the six Yorkshire teams had generated only seven wins between them from 32 games so far, a remarkably paltry return.
At this point last year, the same teams had only mustered a dozen between them – Hull lost four of their first five, Castleford and Huddersfield each falling in their opening trio of fixtures – yet people thought that was bad.
It all means the forthcoming Easter period has become an imperative point of the campaign already for so many of our teams.
For all of the slow-starters, an opportunity to play four games inside two weeks or so, could be a crucial chance to resurrect their campaigns or, conversely, fall away into oblivion.
Leeds, for one, realise they must kick on soon and, with captain Danny McGuire fit again, they should be in a decent position to do that, although next Thursday’s game at Castleford suddenly looks one of real importance.
Daryl Powell’s Tigers also face the trip nobody wants – Perpignan on Easter Monday – and host Huddersfield the following Sunday in a potentially difficult run.
For their part, Huddersfield will acknowledge they can make real strides; on the back of their first win against Hull KR last weekend, Catalans at home tomorrow and then Wakefield (away) plus Salford (home) over the Bank Holiday is a list that will have Paul Anderson seeing points fast accumulated.
Two of the Broad Acres’ clubs have made coaching changes already; James Webster has taken over from Chris Chester at Hull KR, Chester subsequently replacing Brian Smith at Wakefield after the Australian quit.
Both will hope for that traditional spike in performance that ordinarily comes with a change at the top although Rovers’ hopes of doing so have been damaged significantly by yet another injury to the luckless Campese.
Trinity plan on bringing a new player in to freshen their attacking options up and you sense that is required as they have looked particularly blunt going forward so far.
The fact remains, things may get worse before they get better for so many of the White Rose’s teams – and then, with the league format being as it is, it may be too late for some to challenge for what they had expected in 2016.