THERE WERE no complaints from Leeds Rhinos coach Brian McDermott after history repeated itself at the Magic Weekend.
For the second successive year Rhinos shared six tries with Wigan Warriors, but lost by a four-point margin after having a late touchdown ruled out by the video referee.
Wigan’s 18-14 success was only Leeds’ second defeat of the season and McDermott had no argument with the result.
“I thought Wigan deserved that,” said the Leeds coach. “There would be one or two things you might want to talk about during the game, but on the whole they deserved that – they were better.”
The biggest of those talking points was Phil Bentham’s decision to disallow Joel Moon’s 77th minute touchdown, ruling the Leeds man had knocked Kevin Sinfield’s kick into defender Dom Manfredi before regathering.
“It would have been a knock-on, yes,” said McDermott. “You could argue the semantics of it, why he didn’t have a clean catch.
“There were some Wigan hands in there. But then we have to make a video referee decision today, don’t we? It could have gone on and on and on and you could end up sitting down and arguing, but that was a rugby league knock-on, yes.”
Wigan had Michael McIlorum and John Bateman sin-binned along with Rhinos’ Ryan Bailey following a first-half punch-up.
That came seconds after a late challenge by Gil Dudson on Danny McGuire and was followed by an incident which led to Dominic Crosby being placed on report for a tackle on Ryan Hall.
Asked if he had a view on those incidents, McDermott refused to be critical of Wigan’s tactics.
He said: “They were more intense than us, I will say that, in the early stages. They put us off our game.
“We weren’t allowed to attack as we wanted to do, so credit to Wigan. Credit to (coach) Shaun Wane, he had a supposedly lesser team out there and got them to play a certain way which disrupted us.
“That’s the nature of the game. Foul play and all that, I will let the referees deal with that.
“I don’t think there was too much foul play, I just thought they were aggressive. You have got to be able to wear those.
“I thought some of them went round our chops and there were some late shots off the ball. But as long as they are not spearing at knees and trying to injure people on purpose to get them out of the game long-term, I have got no grievance at all.
“I don’t say Wigan were (doing that) at all today, I just thought they were doing a bit of rugby league aggression, which is good. It was a good game, wasn’t it.”
Leeds trailed 18-4 going into the final quarter before finally hitting their stride and McDermott was encouraged by that.
He said: “We certainly had a lot of lot of fight in us. Tremendous second half, it is humbling coaching the fellas who can come up with some things.
“Every break we made and the tries we scored in the second half we had to fight for. They weren’t given to us.”
And of the overall performance, he added: “I am not too down about that.
“I hate losing, but we have been winning with a bit of class just recently and you’ve got to lose with class as well.
“When you get beaten by somebody who’s a bit better on the day you have got to concede that and work out where and go fix it, rather than whinging about referees or about events during the game. We have got to take control of what we can control and what we could control in those opening 20 minutes we didn’t. That’s probably where we lost the game.”
Centre Kallum Watkins was ill and joined Jamie Jones-Buchanan, Paul Aiton and Rob Burrow on Leeds’ casualty list before the match. McDermott said Rhinos came through with no new injuries, though there were “some tired men”.