record-breaking captain Kevin Sinfeld is confident Leeds Rhinos won’t be knocked off course by their first defeat of the season.
Rhinos went down 14-10 three days ago, away to an under-strength St Helens side who scored three tries to one.
Leeds led twice – 6-0 and 8-6 – and levelled at 10-10 late on, only for the hosts to snatch victory with a last-gasp try.
The result means Rhinos have a record of five wins, a draw and defeat at First Utility Super League’s quarter-way point, but Sinfield insisted they have no need to feel too down about their latest performance.
“I am disappointed,” admitted Sinfield, whose first of three goals took his club record points tally to 3,500.
“We got to a stage where we were bouncing off their tryline and I think with the number of repeat sets we got (Rhinos forced six drop-outs) and the amount of pressure we had we could have won four or five games.
“But we have got to give them credit. I thought they really stuck in and they defended very, very well. I don’t think we particularly did anything wrong, we just couldn’t get over the try line.”
Saints’ winning touchdown came soon after they had what looked at first glance a good try ruled out for a knock-on in back-play. Sinfield admitted that had been a “wake-up call” and he added: “We should have been a bit smarter on the last play, for their winning try.
“But it is what it is. Unfortunately we have to cop it on the chin, but I don’t think we are a million miles away - we just could not score, whatever we tried.
“We made breaks and we bust them and from time to time we created pressure. A lot of things we try to do in training, we implemented them pretty well.
“We just could not find that final play which would have got us over the line.”
Over the last few years Rhinos have not been used to losing games in which they play well, but Sinfield felt Friday was one of those occasions.
Despite being without seven first-choice players, Saints produced their finest performance of the season to take their 100 per cent winning record to seven matches.
“They played very well,” Sinfield accepted. “We were under no illusions going there and it is something we spoke about before the game.
“We mentioned Wigan two years ago when they had a lot of young lads in their team and they did a big number on us, so we knew the game was gong to be tough.
“The pressure was right off them and I suppose in many ways some of their young lads really raised their game.
“I can remember playing in one like that back in 1999 when we had a lot of young players in and we beat a very strong Wigan side.
“I don’t think we played particularly poorly, we played all right, we just needed to get over the line another time.
“If we’d done that early in the second half it might have been a different game.”
According to Sinfield, the key thing now is for Rhinos to come up with a positive response, beginning with Sunday’s Tetley’s Challenge Cup trip to Wakefield Trinity Wildcats.
He said: “We have got quite a long turn-around now. The squad has had a bit of a shuffle with people having a break and we’ve copped a few injuries, but things seem to be settling down now.
“We have got a break from the league to go into the Cup campaign and we’ll look forward to that.
“There’s certainly some things we need to fix, as there is after every game.
“But it was a bit of a funny feeling on Friday – I was disappointed we didn’t get the win, but I don’t think we performed too badly either.
“Saints defended really well, as did we.
“I am sure it was a great game to watch and we will be better this week.”
Sinfield said Rhinos are expecting to be pushed to the limit again this weekend.
“We have to get ready for that one,” he insisted. “They have had some good results of late and they’ve been playing really well.
“We know what a threat they will be and they have got quite a few ex-Leeds boys in there, who like playing well against us.
“We will have a look at it and pick some things up and we will need to be better.”
Winger Tommy Makinson scored a brace of tries for Saints and fellow youngster Anthony Walker also crossed. As captain of England, Sinfield felt Friday was hugely encouraging.
“Throughout Super League the young lads that are coming through are fantastic for our sport,” Sinfield stated.
“Saints’ young guys who came in really stepped up and clubs’ youth policies are working. We have certainly got some great talent in this country.”