Boss Brian McDermott hailed a job well done after Leeds Rhinos began their Stobart Super League title defence with a hard-fought 34-16 win over Hull KR at Headingley Carnegie.
Leeds trailed 12-10 mid-way through the second half, but Kallum Watkins’ 13-minute hat-trick turned the game on its head.
McDermott said: “What I wanted as a coach, we got out of it. I wanted to win.
“I would have liked us to have played better, but give Hull KR credit. They had a dig, they didn’t go away and we had to find a way of making it happen for us.
“It was a good game. Hull KR came with a lot of resilience.”
McDermott admitted Rhinos will need to work on “the ball security issue” and “some little defensive lapses”, but added: “Other than that, good.”
It was Watkins’ first game since he aggravated a knee injury last August. McDermott said: “There’s a lot more to come with him.
“I thought with some of our composure and some of our timing and combinations, we have clearly got some work to do there. But give some individuals some decent ball in decent spots.....he was very potent.”
McDermott also praised the effort of Jamie Peacock, who had not had a warm-up game, plus back-rowers Carl Ablett, Jamie Jones-Buchanan and Brett Delaney.
Jones-Buchanan went off injured mid-way through the second half, but McDermott said: “It’s a knee twist, but he should be okay.”
And he gave credit to head groundsman Jason Booth and his staff for ensuring the match went ahead on a freezing night.
“Jason has done a fantastic job,” said the coach. “The fact the game went ahead was down to him and his staff.”