A BETTER attitude has been behind Leeds Rhinos’ defensive improvement, according to young centre Harry Newman.
Leeds’ eight tries in the 44-0 Betfred Super League win at Huddersfield Giants last Friday was three more than they had scored in any other game under interim-coach Richard Agar.
More impressively, it was their second clean sheet – something they didn’t look capable of producing in the first half of the campaign – following the 10-0 success at Wakefield Trinity in June.
Newman felt “the boys dug deep, to nil a side – especially in this competition – is pretty big”.
He said: “Our defence has been improving and it is down to attitude, really.
“Our attitude has changed massively over these last six or seven weeks.
“We’ve had a bit of a dip in performances the last two, but not in attitude and it showed.
“We worked hard during the week, we were on the training field working hard when other teams were off and it proved it was worth it [on Friday].”
The game three days ago was only the fourth time Leeds have scored more than 30 points in a league game this year.
“I thought we were great, especially defensively, but in attack as well,” Newman added.
“We stuck to the game plan Rich and the coaching staff gave us all game and it paid off.”
Rhinos’ first try was scored by Adam Cuthbertson off Newman’s last tackle kick.
He said: “Rich is always taking the Mick out of me for my kicking game so it was nice to set Cuthbo up for one.”
Their ninth win of the league campaign lifted Leeds to the dizzy heights of eighth in the table, but they are still in the relegation fight.
This season whenever they have looked set to get on a roll and pull clear of danger they have slipped back into trouble with a below-par performance and Newman insisted the squad are aware they have to back up with another big effort at home to Catalans Dragons on Friday.
“There’s five games left now,” he pointed out.
“We have spoken about blocks of games and results we need to get.
“We know as a group of players what we can do and if we defend like that each week we can’t go far wrong.
“We know what we need to do. We are up to eighth now, but what everyone else is doing is something we can’t control.
“We can only control what we do, the performances we put out and the results we get.”
Newman is from Huddersfield and played for the town’s Newsome Panthers community club before joining Leeds.
“I was looking forward to it all week,” he said of his first game at John Smith’s Stadium.
“A lot of my family came down – my uncle’s a Giants fan – and I really enjoyed the game.
“The fans were outstanding from start to finish and it was a great result.”
Rhinos were backed by a wall of noise and Newman reflected: “It was like being at home for us.
“The fans were absolutely fantastic.
“To walk over there at the end with them all staying behind, it was great.”