Leeds Rhinos: No excuses for ‘shocking’ display at Hull KR admits James Donaldson

FORWARD JAMES Donaldson used one word to sum up Leeds Rhinos’ latest defeat: “Shocking.”

Saturday, 6th April 2019, 6:00 am
Leeds Rhinos players warm-up at Hull KR. Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe.

Rhinos’ hopes of recording back-to-back Betfred Super League wins for the first time in a year were shattered during the opening quarter at Hull KR when they went 18-0 behind.

Leeds were 31-10 adrift at the break and eventually beaten 45-26 by Donaldson’s former club.

The loss left them rooted to the foot of the table and – coming a week after a 21-20 golden-point victory against Castleford Tigers – was a new low in a dismal campaign.

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Craig Hall escapes James Donaldson's tackle.

“Just shocking,” was Donaldson’s reaction to the result and performance.

He said: “We started the game shocking and we just seemed to lose our momentum in the game straight away.

“We didn’t want to dig in, dig our heels in and work hard for each other and I think it got us.”

On the few occasions they held on to the ball Leeds caused Rovers problems, but Donaldson admitted their defence at the moment is not good enough.

“We can score points – you can see that – but every time our attitude in defence is just shocking,” he added.

“It’s attitude, everything is just attitude – your attitude to defence, your attitude to attack. Everyone wants to score the tries but do you want to put the work in and do the defence?”

There had been hopes the win over Castleford would prove a turning point in Leeds’ campaign, but Donaldson reckoned Thursday’s effort “just ruined it all really”.

He stated: “We’d been working hard to start building every week and then to come up with that, you know, it is shocking.

“We started off the second half a bit better, but the back end caught up with us.”

Of his own effort, Donaldson said: “I felt I made a difference when I came on in the middle and then obviously someone got injured and I went to back-row.

“I don’t think I was as effective there. I was enjoying myself in the middle at the time, but I’ve got to look at my own game as well and see where I can improve.”

Rhinos should get back to winning ways next Friday when they play host to League One Workington Town in the Coral Challenge Cup.

“It’s the old rivals,” said Donaldson who is from neighbouring Whitehaven. “But I’m just looking forward to getting out there and trying to build again and doing the little things right. It is a big game for us to get some confidence, but 100 per cent they’ll be fancying it and they’ll come with some attitude.

“We’re going to have to put our shoulder pads on and get ready to do the hard work.”

Rhinos are likely to be without second-rower Cameron Smith who suffered bone damage to a foot at KCOM Craven Park and was in a protective boot after the game.

Forward Brett Ferres and scrum-half Richie Myler will both be available after competing bans.

Leeds’ Luke Briscoe, Ashton Golding, Harry Newman and Callum McLelland are in Featherstone Rovers’ initial squad for today’s game at Toulouse Olympique.

Former Melbourne Storm winger Elijah Niko has spent the week training with Rhinos, but will now return to their rugby union sister club Yorkshire Carnegie.