Leeds Rhinos 36 Hull FC 6: That will do for starters - Mac

Leeds players Zak Hardaker and Danny McGuire celebrate Chris Clarkson's try. PIC: Steve Riding

Leeds players Zak Hardaker and Danny McGuire celebrate Chris Clarkson's try. PIC: Steve Riding

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Delighted boss Brian McDermott felt his “strike players” made the difference as Leeds Rhinos got their title defence off to a flying start.

Rhinos scored five tries in the final 23 minutes to eventually overwhelm a rugged Hull side 36-6 at Headingley Carnegie.

“It was a tough battle,” McDermott reflected afterwards. “I thought Hull had a really big dig there and I don’t think either team played poor.

“I thought Hull were very, very strong and it was very tasty for the first 60 minutes. Both teams got their tools sharpened, but we probably had a bit more strike there in terms of performers.

“Our strike players really performed – Kevin Sinfield, Rob Burrow and Danny McGuire really stepped up and it showed.

“We looked controlled defensively and we didn’t panic,” he said. “We stuck together as a team and it was the same offensively, we had people singing off the same hymn sheet.”

McDermott admitted the loss of Hull skipper Gareth Ellis, who was injured in the warm-up, made a difference.

“He is a world class player and it made them a lesser team, but I thought they rallied round and reacted positively to that,” he said.

“It didn’t look like they missed him early, but as the game draws on you need your big players.

“Ours stepped up tonight towards the back end of the game and maybe Gaz Ellis would have done too.”

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