OFF-COLOUR Leeds Rhinos need to be better at crucial times.
That was the message from coach Brian McDermott after his side suffered yet another defeat to one of Engage Super League’s top-four.
A week after being crushed 42-6 at home to Warrington Wolves, Rhinos conceded seven tries in a 42-16 hammering by St Helens at their temporary Widnes home last night.
Like the previous week, Rhinos were still in the game at the break, when they trailed 6-4, but four tries in the third quarter turned the game Saints’ way.
“I don’t see it as a collapse,” said McDermott, whose team have yet to beat a top-four side this season.
“For big, big periods of the game I thought we were very tough and very composed, but for the parts that matter, we weren’t.
“Just after half-time we didn’t look anything like we did in the first half, Saints got a stranglehold on that game and didn’t let go of it.”
McDermott saluted his side’s “outstanding” defence in the first period, but felt all that work took its toll later on.
“When it mattered, we didn’t play well,” he said. “A bit like last week, we invested so much energy in the first half, in the period when it did matter we were a bit sluggish.
“Then in the final 10 or 15 minutes we looked something like again, so try and work that one out.
“We are aware that we have got to defend when we need to defend. There were periods in that game when we needed to defend and we didn’t.”
Danny McGuire suffered a dead leg in the first half, but played on until the hour mark. Carl Ablett was treated for an elbow injury.