Leeds Rhinos coach Rohan Smith reveals injury blows, hails defensive effort in win at Castleford Tigers

Leeds Rhinos’ impressive 26-6 derby win at Castleford Tigers came at a cost, with one player ruled out of the next match and another needing hospital treatment.
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Rhinos were reduced to 15 available players in the first half after centre Harry Newman and second-row James Bentley both left the field for head injury assessments. Despite that, the visitors - who were under pressure for most of a scoreless opening period - dominated after the break to pick up their fourth win from six Betfred Super League rounds.

“Newman passed his hia, the concussion aspect of it,” Rhinos coach Rohan Smith confirmed. “But he has got a nasty split to his lip which is going to need a fair few stitches, I’d imagine, when he gets to the hospital.

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“Hopefully there’s nothing else structurally there, but we’ll find out once he goes. Bentley failed his hia, but he is feeling okay, which is the priority. He will be out for a couple of weeks.”

Coach Rohan Smith thanks Leeds Rhinos' fans after Thursday's 26-6 win at Castleford Tigers. Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com.Coach Rohan Smith thanks Leeds Rhinos' fans after Thursday's 26-6 win at Castleford Tigers. Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com.
Coach Rohan Smith thanks Leeds Rhinos' fans after Thursday's 26-6 win at Castleford Tigers. Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com.

Leeds, who play host to Warringfton Wolves next Friday, were without prop Tom Holroyd and explaining his absence, Smith said: “He has got a really badly bruised elbow from the incident last week where, after he grabbed [St Helens’] Jack Welsby, somebody tackled him into the wall and he banged his elbow on the wall.”

Smith added: “We have a lot of middles competing for minutes. Tom played for the good of the team last year through a lot of injuries and kept turning up , but given we had fresh and available people today we didn’t need Tom to do that. He was willing to, but hopefully he recovers and is back in contention next week.”

A 20-point win for Leeds looked unlikely in the first half when they were pinned inside their own territory by Tigers and forced to drop out five times. Castleford weren’t able to find a way over Rhinos’ line and Smith saluted an “extremely strong defensive performance”.

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He said: “They played really well I thought; they stretched our edges and found some good kicks to get repeat sets. We were camped in our own half pretty much the whole first half, but we’ve been difficult to break down all season and they found it hard to break us down. Our kick defence was outstanding and particularly Lachlan Miller was everywhere the ball was, which great full-backs do.”

Paul Momirovski touches down for the second of his two tries in Leeds Rhinos' 26-6 victory at Castelford Tigers. Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com.Paul Momirovski touches down for the second of his two tries in Leeds Rhinos' 26-6 victory at Castelford Tigers. Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com.
Paul Momirovski touches down for the second of his two tries in Leeds Rhinos' 26-6 victory at Castelford Tigers. Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com.
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Miller, an off-season signing from Newcastle Knights, scored his first two tries for Leeds in an eye-catching all-round performance. Smith said: “He is good at beating the first bloke, he can do that any time he wants, but at times he tries to beat the next bloke and the next bloke. Today he was running hard, not looking for space - he was looking to break tackles and run strong and the ball ended up in his hands a few times, deservedly so. But his defensive work in that first half gave us a chance to do that in the second half.

“With the amount of ball they had and position, based on their good play and forcing repeat sets, usually something ends up going against you and points are scored, but the discipline of our defence not to concede penalties and also to keep turning up on kick plays was huge.”

Tigers had almost 50 more plays than Leeds in the first half, but Smith felt Rhinos looked the fresher team going into the break. “The last play before half-time showed the energy we still had and the intent we had, despite having no field position and letting ourselves down with a bit of handling in that first half,” he reflected.

Leeds Rhinos full-back Lachie Miller celebrates after scoring in the 26-6 win at Castleford Tigers. Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com.Leeds Rhinos full-back Lachie Miller celebrates after scoring in the 26-6 win at Castleford Tigers. Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com.
Leeds Rhinos full-back Lachie Miller celebrates after scoring in the 26-6 win at Castleford Tigers. Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com.
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“In the second half we came out and put our foot down straight away. Sam Lisone had a couple of big plays that got the ball rolling and we were commanding in the second half.”

Substitute Lisone’s spell either side of half-time turned the tide in wet weather on a heavy pitch. Smith said: “It was tough for big people out there in those conditions; it was really heavy in the middle, as you’d expect with all the rain we’ve had. The ground actually looked in terrific condition pre-game.

“It was very heavy for the big guys and I thought the middles on both teams did a good job to keep their feet throughout the game. Lisone had a big impact and he needed to, that’s what we needed from him.”

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