Brian McDermott hails wounded Leeds Rhinos’ toughness after win over Widnes

Joel Moon
Joel Moon
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BOSS BRIAN McDermott praised the toughness of players who battled through the pain barrier in Leeds Rhinos’ 42-22 win over Widnes Vikings yesterday.

BOSS BRIAN McDermott praised the toughness of players who battled through the pain barrier in Leeds Rhinos’ 42-22 win over Widnes Vikings yesterday.

Ashton Golding and Liam Sutcliffe missed out after being hurt in the win at Hull on Good Friday and Ash Handley was called into the side despite struggling with a knee problem.

McDermott revealed Stevie Ward, who returned from a hamstring injury against Hull and Brett Delaney were also carrying knocks.

Anthony Mullally has joined Rhinos’ casualty list after suffering suspected fractured ribs in the first half yesterday.

“Stevie was a doubt for the Hull game,” McDermott revealed. “We are down some troops at the moment through suspensions and injuries.

“He probably should not have played at Hull, so for him to back up and play at centre is a really big effort from him.

“Brett Delaney has been carrying a hamstring for a number of weeks and Ash Handley took himself out of a [knee] brace after being told he’d be four to six weeks.

“I think he’s been about nine days in the brace and took himself out to play. There’s another fella (believed to be Tom Briscoe, who suffered a dead leg at Hull) who probably should not have played.

“There was some real toughness. The medics would advise them all to spend longer on the sidelines before coming back, but we are not afforded that luxury.”

Rhinos led 30-6 at half-time, but saw Widnes cut the gap to just eight points before two late

tries sealed the win.

McDermott said: “There were a couple of things involved in the second half, not least Widnes’ desire to get back into the game.

“I think we were running at something like a 40 per cent completion rate in the second half and I don’t care who you are, how good a coach you are or what type of team you’ve got, nobody can keep challenging against any team like that.

“They are a determined team. The last thing we wanted to do was give them an invite into the game and that’s exactly what we did.

“Credit to Widnes, they made it a contest when, if we had gone about things differently, it never would have been.”

Of the effect of two games in such a short period, McDermott said: “Everyone’s in the same boat.

“I can’t be too critical. I am not too down on the players about it.

“We found ourselves in a situation where we were fighting for the game and we should never have been.

“We can get angry about that if you like, but you have to deal with the situation itself and I thought the players showed some maturity and some toughness.

“I won’t get too wrapped up in the second half. It made it interesting and entertaining and got everybody all anxious, but the real focus point for us will be the first half.

“We were really clinical and looked great, full of energy.”

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