HIS FIRST game in charge typified Brian McDermott’s reign as Leeds coach – there was drama and controversy and Rhinos seemed dead and buried at one stage, but they came good in the end.
The former Bradford Bulls prop was assistant to Rhinos team boss Tony Smith for a spell before heading south to take charge of London Broncos.
He returned to Leeds in the autumn of 2010, initially as no2 to Brian McClennan and stepped into the hot seat when the Kiwi quit a year earlier than expected.
McDermott’s debut as head coach came in the Magic Weekend, on February 13, 2011. Every game of Super League round one was staged at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium and Leeds’ derby against Bradford Bulls proved to be the highlight.
It looked like being a losing start for McDermott, but Rhinos – with Keith Senior making his 400th Super League appearance and 350th game for Leeds – mounted a stunning fightback to snatch a 32-28 victory thanks to a late penalty try awarded by the video referee.
Bulls, who also had a new coach in Mick Potter, led 28-10 inside the final quarter, but a series of calls went against them.
One of those was video official Richard Silverwood’s decision to rule out what looked to be a try by ex-Leeds man Chev Walker.
That was one of two Bradford touchdowns denied by Silverwood, who was called into action again in the final moments when Leeds trailed by two. Kallum Watkins sent Ben Jones-Bishop, who had already crossed twice, racing clear and he kicked ahead and was brought down by Bradford’s Gareth Raynor.
Silverwood awarded a penalty try and Kevin Sinfield’s fourth goal completed the scoring and Leeds’ sensational late rally.
Rob Burrow, Ryan Hall and Kylie Leuluai were Leeds’ other try scorers. Elliott Whitehead scored a hat-trick for Bradford and debutant Matt Diskin, who had joined them from Rhinos, and Patrick Ah Van also crossed, with Ah Van kicking four goals.
McDermott reflected: “I don’t feel we got out of jail, but I will give Bradford a lot of credit. They were strong and exploited some of the stuff we weren’t doing well.”
Leeds Rhinos 32
(Tries Jones-Bishop 3, Burrow, Hall, Leuluai. Goals Sinfield 4)
Bradford Bulls 28 (Tries Whitehead 3, Diskin, Ah Van. Goals Ah Van 4)
super league february 13, 2011
Leeds Rhinos: Webb, Jones-Bishop, Delaney, Senior, Hall, Sinfield, Burrow, Leuluai, Buderus, Cross, Jones-Buchanan, Lauitiiti, Ablett. Subs Kirke, Burgess, Watkins, Pitts.
Bradford Bulls: Royston, Ah Van, Platt, Walker, Raynor, Briggs, Kearney, Lynch, L’Estrange, Hargreaves, Elima, Whitehead, Langley. Subs Scruton, Diskin, Kopczak, Sibbit.
Referee: Steve Ganson.
Attendance: 29,323 (Millennium Stadium, Cardiff).