'I love this group': Leeds Rhinos boss Rohan Smith reflects on 'unbelievable' win, hails fans and insists there's more to come
Delighted coach Rohan Smith saluted his never-say-die Leeds Rhinos players after their “unbelievable” 36-32 win at Catalans Dragons.
Rhinos trailed 30-6 when Matt Prior was sent-off, moments after returning from the sin-bin, with 26 minutes of the game remaining.
From a seemingly impossible situation, Rhinos hit back through a hat-trick of tries by Richie Myler and one from Brad Dwyer before Rhyse Martin sent the game into extra-time with a late penalty goal.
Aidan Sezer then stepped up to score the winning try to maintain Rhinos’ 100 per cent record in golden point.
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Leeds have now beaten Betfred Super League’s second- and third-placed sides in
successive matches, following the previous week’s defeat of Wigan Warriors.
Smith insisted: “I love our group, I have since I arrived.
“It is a journey and it’s about improving week to week.
“We still haven’t played with our first choice team.
“I’ve been here for  games and we haven’t had a first-choice team to select from as yet.
“I am still hopeful there’s more improvement in us.”
Leeds were unstoppable after Prior’s red card and Smith reflected: “They are a dangerous team, one that’s chasing points at times.
“We are trying to build a game where we can play free-flowing footy when we don’t necessarily need to chase points.
“That helps for those moments when you are chasing points.
“They looked like they were enjoying themselves out there.
“In the end, defending with 12 players for 25 minutes, plus the other 10, to chase points, to defend your tryline like we did, that’s unbelievable really.”
It was Leeds’ second visit to France in three weekends following a 20-6 defeat at Super League’s bottom club Toulouse Olympique.
Smith said: “I thought there was a lot of spirit in that Toulouse game.
“We had seven or eight blokes aged 20, 21 or under and blokes playing at the last minute.
“I think a lot of today’s success probably came from how we handled the conditions that day.
“We finished that game full of running and it gave some more senior players even more confidence in their ability to come here in hot conditions as well.”
Though Catalans led for most of it, Smith insisted: “I thought the game wasn’t really reflective of the score at various times when we were behind.
“I thought it was a good arm wrestle, probably the slowest game I have seen this year.
“It was extremely slow, a lot of stoppages again and we overcame that as well.
“I was excited at the end because physically we were still full of running, which is how we are trying to prepare our players.
“We want to start well and we didn’t quite do that; we were very clunky I thought with our attack at the start of the game.
“We lacked any kind of fluency, which didn’t take any petrol out of Catalans, but we are certainly training like we can finish games strongly, which came through in most of our recent games including the one at Toulouse.”
Smith also hailed the contribution from Rhinos’ travelling supporters.
“I’ve been around rugby league my whole life and there’s no better fans than Leeds’,” he said.
“I knew that before I took the job and they’ve only shown that in my time here, through times of turbulence.
“A lot of them wouldn’t have had a clue who I was and they have shown me a lot of respect.,
“They love those boys in there so we’re super-grateful to the people who travelled,the people who listened to the commentary, the ones who were at the game last week and will be at the game next week and the ones who follow us everywhere.
“We are a big club and well supported by some passionate people who it means a lot to.”