They could be six points clear at the top of Super League tonight, but boss Brian McDermott insists Leeds Rhinos are still lacking the wow-factor.
Rhinos would take a huge step towards securing a place in First Utility Super League’s top-four with a win at second-placed St Helens.
McDermott, though, insisted he is happier with Rhinos’ results than their recent performances and he reckons they will need a big improvement to get two more points tonight.
The Challenge Cup holders have won their last five matches and nine of their opening 10, but McDermott said: “I think we’ve got an element of consistency about us and we go through some decent periods in games, but I don’t think we’re on a roll.
“I think if you are performing well most weeks then you start talking about confidence and about some consistency.
“I think we’ve had some impressive wins, I don’t think we’ve had impressive performances. I am probably being critical, I am not saying we’ve been playing poor really, but I wouldn’t say we’ve been ‘wow’ or very impressive in most of those wins.”
Leeds will travel to Langtree Park with a four-point lead on the table and McDermott added: “It is a good place to be, but the challenge then is to maintain that.
“First off, you want to get out in front.
“Everybody will talk about the challenges of being out in front and
maybe it is better to be lying second and coming up on the outside late on and all those types of scenarios, but everybody would admit they would rather be out in front.
“As soon as you are, albeit by the small margin that we are, the next challenge is to maintain that.
“Our attitude towards being out in front is probably the important thing, maintaining that desire each week to play well.”
Tonight’s game is Leeds’ toughest test since their lone defeat at Warrington Wolves a month ago.
McDermott predicted: “It will be a big game and that’s how we like it.
“These are the games that matter, we always look forward to these games and there’s a fair bit riding on it.”
Saints have lost three of their 10 fixtures so far – after winning their opening six encounters.
“We all know we are going to go to Langtree Park to face a pretty determined team,” McDermott said.
“They are going to be full of energy, with a little bit of confidence back in the camp after the win [at Huddersfield] last weekend.
“And they’ve got some troops back.
“That’s something we’ve got to be ready for.”
The coach was disappointed with Leeds’ overall performance against then-third-placed Salford Red Devils five days ago and wants to see more from his team this evening. I was reminded by my staff not to be so harsh, because everybody will have been in the same boat with the Easter period,” he reflected.
“But with the greatest respect to Salford, I thought they had too many people out and it was still a relatively close game. I thought we had enough field position and enough possession of the ball to make it a bit more comfortable for ourselves than we did.
“The final half an hour of that game, I thought, was disappointing for us.
“For the first 50-60 minutes it was a dogged contest.”
Leeds’ Under-19s defeated neighbours Wakefield 28-26 last night. Ashton Golding, Tommy Brierley, Jack Norfolk, Jack Wray and Sam Hallas got the tries with Jordan Lilley adding four goals.