THEY AREN’T out of the woods yet, but Joel Moon reckons Leeds Rhinos have at least got some pride and confidence back.
Just eight days after a record 66-10 thrashing away to Castleford Tigers, Rhinos ended Catalans Dragons’ unbeaten start to the season with a 46-10 success at Headingley Carnegie.
Despite being reduced to 11 players for a spell in the first half, Rhinos scored seven tries and almost doubled their points tally from the previous four Betfred Super League games.
It was Leeds’ best attacking performance against top-flight opposition since the 50-0 Challenge Cup final rout of Hull KR in August, 2015 and Moon described the response to the toughest week of his five seasons at Rhinos as “awesome”.
He said: “That’s rugby league for you – one week you lose by that much, then you can come out and fix up the things you did wrong.
“The boys showed how much pride and courage they have for the jersey.
“It’s good to bounce back like that and hopefully we can carry it on through the season.
“Last week hurt us pretty much and I guess we didn’t want to go through that again.
“We showed that and we put in a great effort.”
Moon admitted: “It was hard during the week, after a loss like that.
“Everyone doubts themselves, but we went to training, fixed up a few things and worked on some stuff we got wrong and we showed out there [on Friday] how well we can play. After last week everyone just had to come out and show what they’ve got and what they are made of.”
Moon was named in the centres, but played as a half-back, with Liam Sutcliffe moving into the back-row and Jimmy Keinhorst – in the second-row on the teamsheet – taking the vacant spot in the three-quarters. It proved a winning formula and Moon said he enjoyed being at the heart of Leeds’ much-improved attack.
“I haven’t played there for a while so it’s different,” Moon said of his role as a pivot.
“It’s just getting used to it and getting used to playing different positions for the team.
“I enjoyed getting my hands on the ball more and running around the field a bit more, so it was good.
“I’ll do whatever helps the team.
“It’s about whatever works for the team and is best for me.”
Moon paid tribute to half-back partner and captain Danny McGuire, who broke a try drought stretching back to the 2015 Grand Final and was Rhinos’ official man of the match.
“He played so well and led the boys around and to play outside him helps my game too,” he observed. Hopefully we can go forward from now.
“There’s a lot of courage in the team and we showed how good we are.”
In the wake of the Castleford defeat Rhinos chief executive Gary Hetherington indicated he plans to make a judgement on Rhinos’ players and coaching staff at the end of this month.
The Catalans game was the first of three home fixtures in that time, with Wakefield Trinity due to visit Headingley on Friday before Leeds travel to Huddersfield Giants six days later and then return to their own turf to face Wigan Warriors. Two or three more wins would leave Rhinos in a healthy position leading into the busy Easter period.
“The next few games are going to be a big test for us,” Moon said.
“It will show how much pride we’ve got in the jersey.
“It is going to be a big month for us and hopefully the boys will carry on [from last Friday].
“We’ve got Wakefield, at home again, this week and hopefully we can put in another big effort.
“We will look forward to that.”