Leeds Rhinos: Golden derby victory’s a big confidence boost admits Trent Merrin

ONE WIN does not make a season, but it will give Leeds Rhinos confidence for the big games to come, Australian pack star Trent Merrin says.

Monday, 1st April 2019, 6:00 am
Trent Merrin is tackled by Liam Watts.

Rhinos are set to travel to Hull KR this week on a high after their 21-20 derby success against Castleford Tigers on Thursday.

Leeds led 20-4 with a quarter of the game remaining, but Tigers hit back to send the match into golden-point extra-time.

Brad Dwyer then struck the winning drop goal from 40 metres out at the end of the first set to end a five-game losing run.

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Leeds Rhinos' Brad Dwyer is mobbed by his team-mates after his golden point drop goal against Castleford.

“We will get confidence from that,” Merrin said.

“It is big, every win’s big, but especially the way we’ve been going the last few weeks.

“We deserved it; I have been saying in every interview I’ve done, I can feel it is all there – the talent’s there, it’s just about coming together.

“It is a new group, we are bonding and starting to figure out how each other plays and we showed it last week.

Castleford Tigers head coach Daryl Powell.

“We let go a little bit and let them back into it and that’s something we definitely need to work on, but if we can get on a roll now it’ll be great.”

He stressed: “Our focus is on one week at a time.

“It is early days yet and it’s a long season.

“We are happy with [Thursday’s] result, but we’ll get back to the drawing board this week, prepare like we have been and keep building.”

Tigers’ rally in the final 20 minutes had Leeds hanging on desperately, but Merrin said credit has to go to the injury-hit visitors – and to Rhinos for coming through the onslaught.

“We knew they were going to stay in the game for the whole 80 minutes, but we showed each other and the club how much passion we have and how much it means to us,” he added.

“It has been coming, it was a great result for the boys and we should be proud, but it’s back to business this week.

“We have been working hard and everything we do behind the scenes led to that result. We can be proud of it and enjoy it because they are hard to come by.

“We won’t go overboard, but we will enjoy it. Now we’ve just got to be consistent and build on this.

“That’s the biggest thing.

“We took our foot off the throat throughout the game and that’s something we need to work on, our consistency.

“I have got full confidence in the team, I’ve never stopped believing and we’ve shown what we can do when we all play together.”

The win was Leeds’ first in front of the fully-opened South Stand.

Tigers coach Daryl Powell felt Rhinos celebrated as if they had won a cup final, but Merrin insisted: “You don’t know when your next win’s going to be so you’ve got to enjoy each one as they come, especially at home.

“Credit to the fans, they turn up every week and these last few weeks have been tough for us, so to get a win at home for them, that’s what it meant to all of us.

“We had a chat about it throughout the week, the passion they show – and we played for them.”

Of Dwyer’s winning one-pointer, Merrin said: “The footy gods carried it over!

“It looked like it floated the whole way over, it was crazy, but I am proud of him.

“He dug in for the whole game and if anyone deserved it it was him.

“All credit to him.”

Merrin had ice on an arm after taking a knock in the game, but is confident of being available for the crucial game at KCOM Craven Park in three days’ time.

“It’s a tough game we play,” he said. “I am just looking after the body.

“I am getting long in the tooth now so I’ve got to do everything I can.

“I’m 29 and in footy years that’s 60! I am all good, just managing the body.”