LEEDS RHINOS boss Brian McDermott admitted to “an element” of relief after his side edged into Sunday’s Tetley’s Challenge Cup semi-final draw.
Rhinos needed two tries in the final eight minutes to see off Kingstone Press Championship leaders Leigh Centurions 25-12 at an anxious Headingley Carnegie.
Leigh led for a spell in the first half, it was 12-12 at the break and there was no more score until teenager Robbie Ward went over for his first senior try on 72 minutes.
“It was a fantastic Challenge Cup game, that’s what the Cup’s all about – games like that,” said McDermott, who admitted a Leeds defeat “did not bear thinking about”. “We have been planning for a really tight game all week, though probably not that tight.
“We said before hand they would mix it with Super League and they have proved that. They have mixed it with us so they would mix it with any Super League team.”
Rhinos were never allowed to get into their stride, but McDermott said it was more of a case of Leigh being outstanding than Leeds playing below-par.
“I am hesitant to say we played poor because I don’t think we did,” said the Leeds boss.
“They had a level of intensity and determination that was Super League standard. We struggled against them because they were good. I thought they would dip, but they never did.”
Of Ward’s crucial try, McDermott said: “All the world and his dog was defending the drop goal and it was a nice little dart.”