Leeds Rhinos can grind out victory at St Helens, insists Rhyse Martin

LEEDS RHINOS can grind out a win at St Helens tonight, goal-kicking forward Rhyse Martin reckons.

Rhinos were hammered 40-6 in a league match at Saints just 21 days ago, after trailing 28-0 inside half an hour.

The visitors fielded a weakened team that night, but have a stronger line-up available for this evening’s semi-final. Rhinos battled to an 8-0 win at Wigan Warriors in defensive game last week and Martin reckons they will need to do the same to book a place at Old Trafford – to face Catalans Dragons – who beat Hull KR 28-10 last night – on October 9.

“Three weeks ago we didn’t show up to the contest,” he admitted of last month’s drubbing. “We got found out really early in the game and that first half was one to forget for us as a team. In the second half we turned things around and did what we wanted to, but at that point in the game it was too far gone.”

Leeds Rhinos’ Rhyse Martin, left, would love to see tonight’s Super League semi-final at St Helens turn into a grinding battle – much like last week’s game at Wigan. Picture: Paul Currie/SWpix.com.

Martin warned: “One thing they pride themselves on is their starts – that’s when they blow a lot of teams away, then you are playing catch-up footy.

“For us, we have got to complete well and build into the game nicely.

“I think if we can get them into corners and have them coming out of their end, I think it will be a really good contest.

“Hopefully it’ll be a bit like last weekend, where it’s grinding footy for the whole 80 minutes.

Leeds Rhinos' Rhyse Martin. Picture: Bruce Rollinson.

“Both teams completed well and you see which team will break first.”

There was nothing spectacular in Rhinos’ win at Wigan, but they did not give an inch in defence and took the only half-chance when it came.

“I heard the game itself wasn’t very exciting,” Martin recalled.

“But when both teams are completing well it becomes a game of fitness levels and physicality.

“Both teams completed at 90 per cent last weekend and that’s something we’ve been struggling with - completions and making teams earn the right to score points.

“To keep them to nil and do what we wanted to do in the game was a massive step in the right direction.

“Hopefully we can build off that and bring it into [tonight].”

Rhinos’ squad is stronger than the one on duty last month, with Konrad Hurrell, Rob Lui, Zane Tetevano, Mikolaj Oledzki, Alex Mellor, King Vuniyayawa and James Donaldson all included in an unchanged 21 from last week.

Tetevano and Oledzki both made a huge difference against Wigan and Martin stressed: “Having the same team this week definitely helps.

“We’ve got some big bodies back, very physical players and they will add a lot, which they did last week.

“It is a bigger challenge this week with the pack Saints have.”

The win at Wigan was Rhinos’ first win in the Super League play-offs since they beat Castleford Tigers in the 2017 Grand Final.

Martin feels they can be proud of getting to within 80 minutes of Old Trafford after so much adversity this year, caused by injuries and coronavirus.

“We’ve had to deal with a lot as a team,” he said.

“It has been very, very tough.

“We probably shouldn’t be in the position we are, so we’re very happy and I think we can definitely get the job done [tonight].

“We’ve got to reflect on how much we want it and what we’ve had to do to get to where we are now and I think the boys are all up for it.

“We are focusing on us, we had a good win last week and hopefully we can build off that.”