SOMETIMES A win feels like a defeat and that is the mood in Leeds Rhinos’ camp following last week’s 38-26 victory over Hull.
Boss Brian McDermott described his team’s performance as “awful” and No 9 Matt Parcell agrees they were well below their best.
Rhinos scored six tries, but conceded four and were unable to put a comfortable distance between themselves and the weary visitors until Parcell sealed things with a last-gasp touchdown.
But at this stage of the year it is results that count and the win guaranteed Rhinos will be involved in the top-four play-offs later this month.
“That’s the positive we will take out of it,” Parcell said.
“We are five points clear of third now so we are in a good position going into the semi-finals.”
However, Rhinos are now preparing for sudden-death matches which will define their season and the hooker reckons Rhinos they will need to improve for Friday’s derby at Castleford Tigers and the big games coming up.
“They’ve got us three times this year so it is going to be a good test to see where we are at,” he predicted of the trip to the Jungle, where Leeds were crushed 66-10 in March.
Rhinos will have something to play for, needing one more win from their final three Super-8s fixtures – a home game against Salford Red Devils either side of trips to Castleford and Huddersfield Giants – to secure second place and home advantage in the semi-final against the team finishing third, on Friday, September 29.
“That’s our next goal,” Parcell said.
We are nearly there, but we have got to build into the semi-final and make sure we are playing our best footy.Leeds Rhinos’ Matt Parcell
“We are nearly there, but we have got to build into the semi-final and make sure we are playing our best footy.
“It is a bit of a shorter finals series over here [than in Australia’s NRL] so we have got to be ready to go.”
With knockout rugby looming, Parcell admitted Rhinos need to be able to cope with the sort of tactics Hull employed last week.
The visitors were low on energy just five days after their Ladbrokes Challenge Cup final triumph, but prevented Leeds getting into their stride.
“The boys were pretty disappointed, as disappointed as you can be after a win,” Parcell said.
“Obviously it wasn’t how we wanted to play, it was a bit of a slow, stop-start game, but credit to Hull – they slowed the game down so we have got a lot to work on leading into the semi-finals.
“We have just got to be better.
“We have got three games now before the semi-final so we have got some time to build and hopefully we can improve.”
Last week’s game was Leeds’ first since the closure of Headingley’s famous South Stand, which is in the process of being demolished and replaced with a new two-tier structure.
Parcell reckons Rhinos have to get used to a new atmosphere at home games.
“It was definitely different,” he reflected.
“It did have an effect on the atmosphere, but it was still a big crowd.”
Parcell scored Rhinos’ sixth try against Hull, touching down from Danny McGuire’s kick on the last play of the game.
It was his 16th try – in 29 appearances – this season, which is the most for Rhinos by a specialist forward in the summer era, overtaking the 14 scored by Ali Lauitiiti in 2005.
“It has been going good,” he said.
“It was a good kick by Magsy, I saw there was no full-back at home.
“I think it’s the most tries I’ve ever scored and I hope I can continue.
“Thursday wasn’t the greatest game, it was very stop-start and the ball was very dewy so it probably wasn’t the ideal game for me. I would rather have a faster track, but hopefully we can keep working and improving for the semi’.”