Coach Richard Agar points finger at experienced players after Leeds Rhinos suffer last-gasp loss to Huddersfield Giants
Leeds Rhinos were accused by coach Richard Agar of shooting themselves in the foot during Sunday's 14-13 loss at Huddersfield Giants.
Leeds led twice, the second time after hitting back from eight points behind, but were beaten by a drop goal with the final kick.
It was their fifth-successive defeat and, despite being without 11 senior players, Agar felt it was one they could have won.
“I am disappointed in the way we shot ourselves in the foot during the game and the way we managed it,” Agar said.
“I thought we were in a good position at half-time but, in the 10 minutes after the break, we have got some experienced players who have come up with some really poor errors.
“When you’ve got as many players missing as we have, we need more from those experienced guys.
“It’s just not good enough.”
Leeds went a point ahead with six minutes left, but Giants equalised immediately after snatching possession from the restart.
“Not catching the short kick-off, we just need to catch that ball,” Agar said. “Despite who was and wasn’t on the game, we could have managed it better.
“I can’t question the bulk of our side’s effort, we have clearly got some experienced guys who are under performing at this moment in time and it is a massive disappointment to lose on the bell.”
Liam Sutcliffe kicked Rhinos’ one-pointer, but missed with three other attempts.
Agar stressed: “I am going to say, I thought Liam was probably our best player. I don’t want to be too hard on him on that.
“He was the guy who created the most for us and I thought he kicked the ball pretty well all afternoon. I am more disappointed with the way we mismanaged the game when it was in the balance.”
Rhinos’ absentees included Kyle Eastmond who suffered a hamstring injury in training the day before the game. Agar said the half-back, signed from rugby union in March, is not expected to be sidelined long term. Kruise Leeming, a hooker, filled in at scrum-half and Agar explained: “At the moment, I am looking around at who can play in the halves and try and do a job for us.
“I thought he did a pretty decent job. He had not had any practice defending on an edge all week, because it was a very late change, but I thought the kid absolutely tried his hardest with the ball.
“I thought our right-side defence got pulled apart a couple of times and there’s too much experience on that edge for that to happen as easy as it did on a couple of occasions. When we have got players, missing you are looking for experienced guys to stand up and I felt, at times, that didn’t happen enough.”
Rhinos have no game this weekend and Luke Gale, who suffered a broken thumb a month ago, will be back for Leeds’ next match, against Wakefield Trinity on May 14.
“We will have a genuine half-back, but we can’t rely on that,” Agar said. “The overriding feeling is we had enough to win that game.
“Some experienced guys were really, really poor for 10 minutes after half-time.
“Players back are going to help us and I think when we get something like [our best side] we are going to be a good team.
“The boys think that too; we are frustrated and disappointed, but we have got to keep our nerve and keep calm, because I do think there’s a really good football team in there.
“But, at the same time, we’ve got some guys who need to be doing better than they are.”
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