NEITHER COACH was willing to criticise his team after Leeds Rhinos ended Wakefield Trinity’s seven-match winning run with an 18-16 victory at Beaumont Legal Stadium, Belle Vue.
Rhinos hit back from 10-0 down after 11 minutes and Wakefield’s Chris Chester felt the “better side won”, while opposite number Brian McDermott also praised the opposition.
“Defence got us the game,” McDermott said. “I thought we were very challenging in offense, but we lost some possession and you’ve certainly got to give Wakefield some credit – they scrambled near their tryline extremely well.
“Sometimes when you lose possession it’s not because you are loose with your skill, they put their bodies in front and defended a couple of big plays from us.
“I am not going to be too critical of our offense, but I thought defence was the key.”
McDermott selected four forwards among his substitutes and winger Ash Handley was 18th man.
It is a funny competition – I don’t look round the competition and think ‘we’ve got some catching up to do’.Leeds Rhinos’ head coach, Brian McDermott.
Explaining his decision to go with a big bench, he said: “It’s because we don’t have a 50-man squad to choose a load of young half-backs or backup nines.
“I have not left anybody out, who you’d think ‘he is an obvious one’.
“Rob [Burrow, who was in Leeds’ initial 19, but did not play] has a shoulder injury.”
Leeds, who play host to Featherstone Rovers on Friday in a Ladbrokes Challenge Cup quarter-final, are third in the Betfred Super League table.
Wakefield dropped to fifth, two points behind and Rhinos now have a healthy seven-point advantage over sixth-placed St Helens.
McDermott said he is happy with where his side are, but added: “We’ve got some improvement.
“It is a funny competition – I don’t look round the competition and think ‘we’ve got some catching up to do’.
“I am looking round the competition and seeing that most teams are struggling to get some combinations together in attack, yet most teams seem to be able to defend.
“There’s only one team that’s nailed their attack consistently and that’s Castleford. We would like to get a bit more cohesion and consistency attacking the opposition’s tryline.
“I don’t think we’ve got a problem anywhere else on the field, but sometimes – camped on their tryline – we are guilty of being a bit too desperate.
“But not massively so, it’s not something that’s keeping me awake at night.”
Meanwhile, Wakefield boss Chris Chester admitted his team “made too many errors in the second half”.
But he insisted: “I can’t be too critical of the boys. I thought they dug in and worked hard, but it was too tired teams.
“Leeds probably edged it, I thought their forward pack was outstanding and Kallum Watkins and Danny McGuire caused us a few problems on the right-edge.
“We competed well, but we just fell short. They were the better side, but we will learn from it and come back stronger.”
Chester admitted the loss of David Fifita, who suffered a knee injury in the first half, was a significant blow.
The coach confirmed Craig Huby was rested, but will return for Thursday’s Cup tie at Salford Red Devils.