Leeds Rhinos reaction - coach Richard Agar explains what went wrong and right in the 13-12 Betfred Super League win over Huddersfield Giants
Boss Richard Agar praised Leeds Rhinos' will to win and gritty defensive effort following their latest last-gasp, one-point win over Huddersfield Giants.
It was the second time in five matches Rhinos had hit back to beat Giants through a Luke Gale drop goal.
Rhinos trailed 10-0 midway through Friday's rain-lashed derby at St Helens, but a dominant second-half performance sealed a precious win.
Huddersfield scored one try before the break, but some strong Rhinos defence prevented them building a bigger lead and Agar admitted: “The main thing is we found a way to win.”
He said: “There was a stark contrast between our first half performance and our second half performance.
“I thought we started the game very, very ordinary - both in attack and defence. I didn’t think it improved much in attack right throughout the half, but I thought with the injection of our bench - Donno [James Donaldson] and Brad Dwyer - we defended pretty well after the opening 15 minutes.
“We spent the first half playing off our tryline.”
Agar, who also welcomed the return of substitutes Konrad Hurrell and on-loan Brett Ferres, admitted there was some “really poor discipline areas” before the break.
He conceded: “In poor conditions, playing field position and territory is very important and I felt Huddersfield did it miles better than us.
“If we hadn’t defended quite well, 10-0 could have looked a lot different.”
The final 40 minutes were a huge improvement as Rhinos scored two concerted tries and then Gale’s one-pointer won it after Giants had levelled with a penalty goal.
Agar added: “Half-time was good for us, to say ‘if we are going to come off our tryline all night it is going to be a long night for us, but we need to play with a bit more shape and be prepared, even in the conditions, to pass the ball, change some angles and move the ball a bit’.
“We said we had to be prepared to play a bit of field position in the knowledge if you spend enough time down there you’re going to get one or two opportunities.
“There was a big impact off our bench and a couple of [important] plays in there - Alex Sutcliffe bending his back off the kick-off and forcing an error was massive for us and James Donaldson - after four weeks out with a broken back - came up with so many dominant tackles.”
Agar admitted pre-match disruption, caused by a coronavirus scare, played a part in Leeds’ poor start, but also praised Giants’ performance.
“I don’t think we were off in effort,” he said. “It was more some discipline areas and concentration.”
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