Rising star Liam Sutcliffe reckons Leeds Rhinos’ 29-10 loss to Warrington Wolves was a lesson learned.
“It was massively disappointing,” Sutcliffe conceded of the defeat three days ago.
“I don’t think we were at the races. All credit to Warrington, they gave us everything they’ve got and we just couldn’t handle it.”
Warrington were on top for most of a surprisingly one-sided game, leading 14-4 at the break and finishing with five tries to Leeds’ two.
“We just weren’t there – especially early on when they scored three quick tries,” Sutcliffe admitted.
“They kind of blew us away and we were chasing the game. We threw a few balls we wouldn’t normally throw and they didn’t come off for us.
“They had a lot of the ball. If we had had a few bounces of the ball it might have been a different game, but they were pretty clinical. A few things came off for them that didn’t come off for us.”
Rhinos still lead the First Utility Super League table – by four points from champions St Helens – and Sutcliffe reckons Friday’s defeat was another step in his personal learning process.
“Everyone goes through games like that,” he said of Rhinos’ second loss of the year, to the same opposition. “We had a big week last week, but we didn’t back up. We have got to deal with it. It is massively disappointing we didn’t perform, but we’ve got to have another big week now and get ready for Huddersfield on Thursday.”
He added: “We have got to bounce back, that’s important – especially with so many good teams in this competition.
“Warrington are up there with the best and we knew they were going to come out and test us and that’s what they did.”
Huddersfield will go into this week’s derby with some momentum behind them, after a 24-4 win at Hull on Friday night. Apart from Warrington, they have come closest to beating Leeds this year, going down 28-24 at Headingley two months ago.
Both teams will be on a short turnaround, but Sutcliffe said that is just what Leeds want after a disappointing loss.
“We’ll review it (last week’s game), hopefully put that one to bed, then come in ready to go,” he said. “We are under no illusions; we know Huddersfield are going to come at us, especially at their place. We’ll be looking to put a few things right and come Thursday we’ll be ready for it.”
Sutcliffe has missed only three of Rhinos’ 12 games this season and, despite last week’s setback, he is happy with the way things are going. “I am getting more confident as every game goes on,” he said. “It has been great to start the last few games. I can feel myself growing every game. I am coming into it a bit more now and hopefully I can keep progressing.”
Sutcliffe is being tipped as a long-term successor to captain and stand-off Kevin Sinfield, who will leave Rhinos to join Yorkshire Carnegie Rugby Union Club at the end of the year.
“This season I just wanted to put a mark down and show Brian (McDermott, Rhinos’ coach) I am capable of stepping in,” he said.
“He has put faith in me and I am trying my best out on the pitch. I am looking to get my head down, keep working hard and see what happens in the future. I’ve done a lot of work with Kev and Mags (Danny McGuire), they’ve given me a lot of advice and they’ve really helped me come on.”