BOSS BRIAN McDermott was “heartened” by Leeds Rhinos’ performance in yesterday’s 29-18 loss to Castleford Tigers.
It was the Betfred Super League leaders’ sixth successive win against Rhinos and Leeds’ fifth straight Magic Weekend defeat. But Leeds were much-improved from the record 66-10 reverse at the Jungle in March and McDermott felt more encouraged than deflated afterwards.
The sides were locked 6-6 at the break, but Castleford added 22 unanswered points before Rhinos staged a strong finish.
McDermott insisted: “It was a great contest and we stuck with Castleford.
“It was a cheap try to concede early in the game, we shouldn’t be conceding those, but just after half-time we lacked concentration and composure and flaked out a little bit, unfortunately, both with some defensive errors and with the ball.
“That’s not normally us, but that’s what a team that applies pressure looks like. We didn’t complete many sets and kept making yardage errors.
“Castleford executed and put some of those plays on that we know they are going to do. They are a good team, Cas, but we were in the fight. I thought we were good value. I think we are a good team as well. Clearly we have to fix a few things up next time we meet, but that was a heartening performance.
“It showed some resilience.”
McDermott hailed some “outstanding defensive efforts” from his team and in particular Ashton Golding.
“His try-saver on Michael Shenton was as good as you’ll see from a full-back,” he said.
“It was top end. We had some moments – with and without the ball – when we looked good and confident.
“It was a tiring game and towards the back end it still looked like we had energy. Castleford execute very well, but we saved as many tries as I’ve seen for a while.
“We forced a lot of errors and put them under pressure.”
Rhinos face Warrington Wolves at Headingley on Friday and McDermott said: “We are in good shape, we are looking forward to it.”
McDermott confirmed winger Tom Briscoe, who was taken off in the first half, was not injured. He said: “He came up with too many errors. He is a good player and has been good value for us this year, but in a game as important as that you can’t make so many errors.”
Cas coach Daryl Powell said: “I thought we were a bit unlucky in the first half. The boys were quiet at half-time. We just needed a bit more composure and we changed the way we were playing a bit in yardage.
“Paul McShane was superb, controlling the middle throughout the second half and that got us the ascendancy.
“I thought he won us the energy battle. We kicked the ball really well and there were some great pieces of skill and class from our left-edge in particular.
“Overall it was a perfect game for us, being really challenged and having to dig our way out of it.
“The whole of the 17 played really well.”