Leeds Rhinos coach Rohan Smith hails 'resilience' in win v Warrington Wolves, explains James McDonnell injury
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Leeds’ first win in four matches lifted them a place to eighth in the table and they are now only two points behind Warrington, in fifth.
Sam Walters and David Fusitu’a also crossed, Rhyse Martin converted all four touchdowns and Smith felt his side showed “good resilience at times when the wave was going the other way”.
He said: “In the end [we had] enough execution under pressure in crucial moments and goal kicking from Rhyse was critical.
“We will take that; we’ve probably played better at times and not got the result, but that was a good, hard-fought game.”
Warrington had lost their previous seven league and cup matches and Smith added: “Both teams were hungry for victory and finding a way to generate opportunities and scramble and stay in it at times.
“It was one of those days where we just had to find a way. We’ve had a lot of distractions this year, but what I respect about the crew in that room at the moment is they are not looking to use them as excuses at any point.
“They are just getting on with it and, if anything, the group is pulling tighter and tighter together.
“We’ve been in the trenches a lot this year - through the week and on game day, a lot of close, hard-fought games - so we’re going to need that resilience and that togetherness next week at Huddersfield.”
Of the final play, when Matt Dufty couldn’t take Stefan Ratchford’s grubber kick close to Leeds’ line, Smith said: “We’ve had some average calls and some bounces go the other way so you think, over the course of the year, they’ll square themselves out.
“It was one of those games where it was hard to say who was the better team. Both teams generated opportunities and it was an exciting game for the people who were here. They rode the rollercoaster, I am sure, as I did.”
Other results in round 22 went Rhinos’ way, but Smith stressed: “We just had to win. It is too soon to be seeing what’s going on in the other games.
“There’s too many rounds to go and twists and turns. We’ve just got to control and controlables. It is one mission at a time and we are on to Huddersfield now and it’s critical we play well in that.”
An injury to second-rower James McDonnell was Rhinos’ main concern from their first game for two weeks.
Smith revealed: “He had a back spasm. He just couldn’t get going. He loosened up a bit as the game went on, he got some treatment and we could have used him in an emergency, but it wasn’t worth the risk of putting him back on and then it happen again. “He’d be in some doubt for next Friday, but I feared something worse when a bloke of that grit and toughness needs to be replaced.”
Harry Newman came through unscathed in his first game since suffering a hamstring injury in May.
Morgan Gannon, who had been sidelined for a similar length of time, was a try scorer in Rhinos reserves' 18-16 defeat by Warrington on Sunday. He came on as a second half substitute, playing at stand-off.
Leeds' other try scorers were Liam Tindall and Ned McCormack. Jack Sinfield and Jack Smith each kicked a goal.