DELIGHTED BOSS Brian McDermott hailed his players for the way they carried out their game plan in the 24-16 Tetley’s Challenge Cup semi-final win over Warrington Wolves.
An outstanding tactical performance earned Rhinos a 14-0 interval lead and they held off a strong Warrington fightback in the final 40.
“It was a very good start from us,” McDermott said. “We were fortunate in the early stages of the game when Warrington had a couple of challenges on our defensive line and it didn’t come off for them, whether it be a late offload or a risky pass, which helped.
“But the players executed our plan really well in the first period. We needed the buffer we had at half-time because we knew what Warrington were going to do in the second half and they certainly challenged us. Any plan needs to be executed. There are some great classroom players and classroom coaches and we all think we know the game, but you have to go out and do it.
“Kev (Sinfield) is an expert at nailing the big games and the big days – and kicking goals, which helps.”
Jamie Peacock was the official man of the match, chosen by the BBC and McDermott said both the veteran prop and second-row Carl Ablett were the top performers in his eyes.
“He is a quiet assassin,” McDermott said of Ablett. “He doesn’t say too much on or off the field, but he was very good.
“He came up with a couple of try-savers and he keeps doing those things.
“As for JP, I don’t know what to say about him other than I am scared to death he may retire at some stage. We have to have a plan in place for when he packs in. I thought Kev and Magsy (Danny McGuire) and Rob (Burrow) were brilliant and it was a very good team performance, but for me the stand-outs were JP and Ablett. You have got to be able to watch a game and to know a game to realise how much quality Carl comes up with.”
Sinfield, who returned on Saturday after a two-game ban, is now preparing for a sixth Challenge Cup final appearance.
He has yet to get his hands on the trophy, but admitted he is unsure what effect such a short build-up – the final is in just 12 days’ time – will have.
“It is nice to be going back there again, to have another shot at it, because I have a few silver medals,” he said.
“We will look forward to it, it is exciting. We have tried every single way there is (to win a Cup final] and not been good enough so far, so if it means we have to do it in two weeks and we win, I’ll be very happy to go that way.”