Leeds Rhinos: Boss McDermott refusing to rest on laurels

Jamie Jones Buchanan is caught by the Catalans defence.
Jamie Jones Buchanan is caught by the Catalans defence.
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Top spot is a good position to be in, but Leeds Rhinos coach Brian McDermott admits it is too early to mean too much.

Rhinos went above St Helens on points difference with a 38-22 win over Catalans Dragons in Perpignan. And with Saints and Warrington Wolves both losing, First Utility Super League round seven was a good one for Rhinos, who have a four-point cushion over third place.

The down side for Leeds was injuries to hooker Paul Aiton and forward Jamie Jones-Buchanan, who suffered a hamstring tear and returned home from France on crutches.

“It has swung our way, for a little while,” McDermott said. “It is round eight next, so head down, backside up – carry on working harder.”

Leeds led 10-6 at half-time, but went 22-10 down before scoring 28 unanswered points in the final 27 minutes to record their fourth successive win in France. And McDermott reflected: “It was a tough game. I thought it was a great game and Catalans played really well. They will have their moments when they felt they were patchy, as did we, but I thought it was a very good game between two teams that attack and defend very well.

“I was really pleased to get that win against a team that could have been very, very good had we not been as resilient defensively. We had to defend extremely well to keep them out.”

McDermott admitted he was concerned when Catalans scored three quick tries to go 10 points clear at the start of the second period.

“I didn’t feel confident,” he said. “I won’t bluff, sometimes when Catalans are in that frame of mind and they play the way they do they are hard to stop.

“We have been there a couple of times and been on the end of some really tough performances, when you really can’t do much about it, so huge credit to the Rhinos players.

“There was a moment in the second half when we went four points in front and a member of staff asked me what message I’d like sending on the field.

“I said ‘nothing’, because they’d got themselves out of a hole. They’d clearly got the answers.”

Of the injuries, McDermott said: “Jonesy has been great this year.

“He is a workhorse in the middle for us. He takes a lot of work and a lot of workload off other people. We will miss him for the period he is out.

“Paul has got a bit of a dead leg. We could have put him back on if we’d needed to, but he wasn’t confident so we decided not to.”

McDermott praised Rob Burrow, admitting he wasn’t sure Leeds would have won without the No 7’s impact off the bench.

He was also pleased with Jamie Peacock and Brad Singleton, but selected Stevie Ward as his man of the match.

Meanwhile, acting-captain Danny McGuire was “delighted” to go into Friday’s derby at Castleford Tigers on the back of a win.

He said: “We showed a lot of character to come back and win the game like that, from 10 points down.

“They had a roll on and made it tough for us for a period, but we showed a lot of determination to get back in the game.

“We regained our composure and scored some really nice tries towards the back end.

“It was a whistle-stop tour – there and back in a day – but we got the job done, so we are really happy.”