LEEDS RHINOS need to smarten up and improve their attack as they prepare for the Super League play-offs.
That’s the message from coach Brian McDermott ahead of tonight’s final game of the regular season, away to Hull.
Rhinos will finish sixth in First Utility Super League whatever happens at KC Stadium, but McDermott is adamant it is far from a dead rubber.
The Challenge Cup holders are looking to end a run of four successive league defeats and McDermott stressed: “We want to play well.
“I think in our last two games the players have shown a lot of character and a lot of effort, but we haven’t been clever at times.
“There’s just been one or two areas we have been sloppy in. I don’t think we need to find a huge amount of form or upheaval in what we are doing, but we have to be a lot more clinical than we were against Wigan last week.”
Rhinos still boast the best defence in Super League, but have scored just one try in each of their last two matches and McDermott admitted their attack must be better.
“If you asked most coaches what would you prefer, great attack or great defence, most would talk about great defence,” he said. “That is harder to get. At times this year we have been brilliant in attack, but for a number of weeks – either through injury, or when we’ve changed the team in preparation for the Challenge Cup – we have found it hard to find offensive consistency.
“I don’t think we have to change a huge amount. There were patches against Wigan when we opened them up and challenged them, but we didn’t do it enough.
“The game took too much out of us because we made too many errors, but as a general overview our attack does need to be a lot better.
“We will not progress far in the play-offs if we only score one try, but we have the muscle memory of that and I am sure it will come.”
Tonight’s clash marks the end of a disappointing campaign for Hull, who are third from bottom in the table – though they could climb three places if they win and other results go their way.
But McDermott warned: “I am sure they will be high on energy and they will come out all guns blazing.
“We will be expecting a big game and that’s what we want. If you count the Challenge Cup, we have had massively intense games for the last few weeks and we want and expect the same against Hull, to get us into play-offs mentality.”
Sixth place will be Leeds’ lowest league finish since 1996, but McDermott insisted: “It has been a hugely competitive season.
“There’s not much separating the top-six and we have been in the mix all year.
“In recent weeks we have dropped off with some performances, but at the same time we picked up the Challenge Cup.
“Finishing sixth does not equal a bad season.”
Rhinos’ elimination play-off at home to Widnes Vikings or Catalan Dragons will be staged at Headingley Carnegie a week tomorrow.
Kick-off will be at either 2.45pm or 5.15pm, depending on finishing positions after this weekend.
Rhinos under-19s take on Hull in a play-off tie at Stanningley tomorrow (noon).