SOFT DEFENCE condemned Leeds Rhinos to their third defeat of the season, according to forward Carl Ablett.
Rhinos were beaten 38-24 at lowly Widnes Vikings yesterday and Ablett reflected: “We were just poor.
“You can’t come and defend how we defended.
“We knew they’ve got some good players, they can score points and they are difficult to defend against, but that is probably the worst we’ve defended all year.
“You normally get what you deserve and we definitely deserved nothing. We were way too soft defensively, too many soft tries and they were dominant really.
“We were nowhere near good enough so it’s going to be a tough week this week, but we’ve got to get back on it for a big game on Saturday, so it’s how we react.”
Ablett admitted Rhinos will need a massive improvement in that Ladbrokes Challenge Cup sixth round tie at home to Huddersfield Giants.
“Offensively, we made some metres and scored some good tries,” he said. “But when you concede 30-odd points it’s not good enough.
“It was just soft, we couldn’t defend errors. They are a good team and if you give that time and space to Kev Brown he picks some good passes.
“They scored some nice tries, so there’s a good lesson for us.”
Rhinos remain top of First Utility Super League, two points clear of Wigan Warriors, but have not won in their last three games, since a 41-16 victory at St Helens opened a six-point gap.
Ablett insisted it hasn’t been a case of Leeds switching off after getting so far in front.
“I couldn’t tell you where we are now or what’s happening in the league,” Ablett said.
“It’s just about our performance. Any team in Super League who comes here and defends like that is not going to get anything out of the game.
“We got what we deserved and it’s going to be a long and tough week in training. We need to focus on defence and turn it around.
“We talked about defence all week, but then we conceded 30-odd points. I’m pretty sure we’ll be doing a lot of defence this week and we’ll have to be good, because we are playing an in-form Huddersfield side and there’s no second chances in the Cup.”
One Leeds player happy with yesterday’s result was Chris Clarkson, who is on season-long loan at Widnes.
He scored their opening try and said: “I didn’t want to celebrate.
“It was obviously good to get the try, but I just wanted to concentrate on playing well.
“It’s the first time Widnes have beaten Leeds in Super League, so it’s good for them to get the win.
“Leeds are a great team and we knew we had to dig in. We’re pretty happy with it.”
Meanwhile, Rhinos under-19s were beaten 26-20 by Hull KR, despite tries from Jack Wray (2) and Ben Frankland, plus four Jordan Lilley goals.
Lilley and Rhinos’ Sam Hallas have been named in the England academy squad to play France under-18s in Carcassonne next Saturday along with Wakefield Trinity Wildcats’ Max Jowitt and Jordan Crowther.