HOLDERS LEEDS Rhinos’ mastery of the weather secured their places in tomorrow’s Ladbrokes Challenge Cup semi-final draw, coach Brian McDermott said.
Rhinos remain on course to retain the trophy they won at Wembley last August following a gritty 24-6 success away to Hull last night.
Despite being without six first-choice players through injury, Rhinos produced a commanding display which saw them lead 24-0 before the home team scored a late consolation try.
McDermott praised restored half-backs Kevin Sinfield and Rob Burrow for the way they ran the game in difficult conditions.
Burrow had been left out for last Sunday’s league clash with Hull, when Sinfield started among the substitutes.
“Both the halves managed the game really well,” McDermott said.
“The game came down to management of the weather.
“I don’t think Hull lacked any effort or game plan, it was simply down to weather.”
Sinfield kicked for goal from five penalties and McDermott said: “He makes his own decisions.
“It was always going to be about points on the board.
“We were fortunate we got that early try and then a penalty to go 8-0 up and then they were in chase mode.”
The coach was also delighted with
his side’s defence, describing try-saving tackles by Brett Delaney and Zak Hardaker in the second half as crucial moments in the tie.
He added: “I don’t think it was perfect game-management from us in the second half.
“I thought Hull kicked better than us in that second half. Our kicking game and game-management hasn’t been great, the last three or four weeks - or even longer.
“But you’ve got to defend your tryline. You can’t expect to go through games with perfect game-management.
“At some stage you’re going to have to defend your tryline, which we did.”
McDermott singled out “magnificent” Stevie Ward for particular praise and also paid tribute to Jamie Peacock and Brad Singleton for their “work ethic”, along with Delaney and Jimmy Keinhorst.
It was Leeds’ second win over Hull in six days, following last Sunday’s 32-20 Super League victory at Headingley.
Hull coach Lee Radford paid tribute to Sinfield, who was promoted back into the starting lineup after Danny McGuire and Liam Sutcliffe were ruled out through injury.
“The sooner he retires and goes to rugby union, the better I’ll sleep at night,” Radford said.
“He kicked us all over the field.”
Radford - whose team visit Wakefield Trinity Wildcats in First Utility Super League on Wednesday - apologised to Hull’s fans for their performance.
He said: “I am unbelievably frustrated. We just haven’t been good enough over the 160-minute period. Our execution and skill set wasn’t good enough to beat a team like Leeds.”
Meanwhile, Sutcliffe is due to undergo major knee surgery on Thursday which will rule him out for the rest of the season.
Sutcliffe suffered a knee injury in last Friday’s First Utility Super League win over Hull and scans have diagnosed anterior cruciate ligament damage.
McDermott said: “It is desperately disappointing news for Liam, especially given the form he has been in this season.
“He will get the best-possible treatment from our medical team and I am sure he will return next season stronger for the experience.”