IN-FORM FRONT-ROWER, Adam Cuthbertson, has described Leeds Rhinos’ task away to London Broncos as “win at all costs”.
With three rounds remaining in the regular season, Leeds and London are among five teams still in danger of relegation to the Betfred Championship.
Rhinos are eighth in Super League, but only two points clear of bottom club London and that makes the game in the capital one of the most important in Leeds’ history.
The next two could become even more crucial, but Leeds can turn those games into dead rubbers – from their point of view – if they get the job done on Sunday.
“I’ve been wanting to say it’s not a big game for the last three or four weeks,” Cuthbertson admitted.
“It is just how the season is going at the minute, not just for us, but for a number of teams down at the bottom end of the table.
“But it is all about us this weekend and going out and getting a win at all costs.
“We have prepared well, it is not an easy place to go, by no means, so we have got to step up and accept the challenge.”
Ealing Trailfinders is familiar territory for Rhinos who will be making their third visit there on Sunday.
They won 42-28 in the 2016 middle-eights and 48-32 last August, in an almost carbon copy, but this season’s encounters have been much tighter.
A last-gasp try gave London an 18-16 victory at Emerald Headingley in March and the margin was the same when Rhinos won the Magic Weekend fixture 24-22 two months later. In every recent meeting between the teams, Leeds have held a strong lead, only for Broncos to fight back.
Cuthbertson recalled: “They have all been close.
“Even last year was a tight fixture and it sort of evens things up when you play on a 3g pitch, especially with the travel down to London.
“It is going to be a big challenge this weekend, especially in the scheme of things, but we are up for it.”
A win for the home side would take London level on points with Rhinos with only two games remaining.
Nothing will be decided mathematically tomorrow, whatever the result, but Rhinos’ superior for and against means they will effectively be safe from relegation if they claim the spoils.
And Cuthbertson admitted they want to take the pressure off before their tough final two matches at home to high-flying Salford Red Devils and Warrington Wolves.
“That would be ideal,” he said.
“Obviously our run home is not easy, but I don’t think anyone has been easy this year.
“I don’t think anyone has looked at any fixture and thought it would be easy.
“Obviously, Saints have been right out there in terms of being quite dominant throughout the league rounds but underneath them I don’t think you can say there’s going to be any easy fixture coming up.
“Each week is definitely a challenge and one you have got to overcome.”
Despite that, Cuthbertson stressed Rhinos aren’t sweating over the importance of tomorrow’s game.
“To be honest, we haven’t really thought about the pressure that comes with it,” he insisted.
“It is just about getting everything we can control right.
“If we do that really well we will be right in it.”
Since interim coach Richard Agar took charge in May, Leeds’ results have followed a pattern of two losses followed by a pair of wins.
Rhinos are on the back of a defeat to St Helens two weeks ago, but Cuthbertson believes they can break the sequence if they return to the form they showed before that.
He said: “We had a minor hiccup in the Saints game, but besides that we’ve been playing some good rugby.
“We’ve been playing a good brand and been executing it quite well.”
Cuthbertson has been at the heart of that, the 34-year-old Aussie producing the type of performances which led to him being nominated for the Man of Steel award during Rhinos’ 2015 treble-winning season.
“It has been good,” he said of his own form. “I had a funny sort of game against Saints, a good game within a bad one.
“I made two silly errors, but nothing I can’t fix up.
“I have been really enjoying my rugby, especially the last couple of months under Rich. It has sort of brought me back to life a bit.”