LEEDS RHINOS are three points clear at the top of First Utility Super League with three games to play after thrashing St Helens 46-18.
Leeds led 18-0 inside the opening quarter and boss Brian McDermott said clinical finishing early on was the key factor.
“It was a decent contest, but we nailed our chances early,” said the boss. “If nailing the chances that are presented to you is a definition (of a good performance) I would go with that. I don’t think we were brilliant in the first half, but we scored 22 points and that put us in a dominant position.”
McDermott also hailed Rhinos’ “commitment to defence” when they were reduced to 12 players with Zak Hardaker in the sin-bin.
“We have got some strike, but you have got to have a foundation of defence,” he said.
McDermott singled out Carl Ablett, Brett Delaney and Jimmy Keinhorst for special praise and was also happy with props Kylie Leuluai, Jamie Peacock, Adam Cuthbertson and Aussie signing Mitch Garbutt, who he described as “solid”. Leeds lost forward Stevie Ward to an ankle injury inside the opening 10 minutes and he will be assessed by the club’s medical staff.
Yesterday’s win completed a league double over Saints after a 41-16 success at Langtree Park in April.
Saints coach Keiron Cunningham apologised to the travelling fans and described his team’s performance as a “debacle” and “not good enough”.
The teams meet again four weeks yesterday in a Challenge Cup semi-final. Asked if yesterday will have any bearing, he said: “It will be there, but there’s a long time to go until then.”
Hull KR have signed former Rhinos centre Thomas Minns, 20, on a three-year deal beginning next season. Leeds-born Minns made three senior appearances for Rhinos in 2013, but spent last year on loan at London before joining Featherstone for 2015.