LEEDS RHINOS boss Brian McDermott was left with mixed emotions as his side came close to finally ending their losing run last night.
The champions – who have now lost seven successive matches for the first time since 1985 – fought hard in the closing stages when trailing just 18-12 against high-flying Catalans Dragons.
Josh Walters’ 67th-minute try had got them within touching distance and they had plenty of pressure at the death to try and force a result.
However, in the end, as they pressed hard, Joel Moon’s pass went to ground and Eloi Pelissier sprinted 60 metres to score with the last play.
“There was a bit of misfortune right at the death and it is a shame we conceded that try then,” said McDermott, with his side still rooted to bottom.
“To pretty much shut them out in the second half like that was pleasing.
“Compared to where we’ve been defending, as a team, that’s a little bit more like it.
“My emotions are caught between being really positive as we’ve suddenly got our teeth into something and we can maybe develop on this. But at the same time we lost and it hurts.”
Asked if that final play perhaps summed up Leeds’ season, McDermott replied: “I think the first tackle of the game – not the last play – sums us up.
“Keith Galloway got a stinger in his shoulder, had to come off and still can’t feel his arm now. We hope that’s all it is. He’s been in great form for us the last three or four weeks but it meant we lost another leader out there.
“But Josh Walters came on and was effective and Sam Hallas came on and did some good stuff for us at hooker and at prop.”
Already missing eight regulars, losing Australian prop Galloway in the first minute was a blow for Leeds who trailed 16-6 at the interval.
But they were much improved compared to last week’s 52-18 hammering at Warrington and showed really positive signs.
Asked if their top-eight hopes are now over, McDermott added it would be “difficult” while he described Mitch Garbutt’s performance as “outstanding.”