LEEDS RHINOS “toughed it out” to regain the Lazenby Cup from Hunslet Hawks yesterday, team-boss Chris Plume felt.
Plume – Rhinos’ assistant-coach who was in charge of the side for the annual pre-season derby – was pleased with the way Leeds’ youngsters turned things around after trailing 14-0 at the break.
Speaking after Rhinos’ 28-14 victory, Plume said: “That was a really tough hit-out, against some tough men.
“In the mud and the wind and the rain, you have to tough it out.
“You have to show what you’re made of and I think some of those players did that.
“Rob Mulhern in his second stint was very good. Brad Singleton and Andy Yates all game just kept toiling away – and there was some real quality from our outside-backs.
“They really showed that even in the most difficult circumstances they could perform. They will have learned a lot, definitely.
“I thought Hunslet were better in the conditions in the first half and I think we learned from it and learned as the game went on. We found a formula in the second half.”
Explaining the change in fortunes after the interval, Plume said: “We couldn’t keep hold of the ball in the first half.
“We kept turning it over – I think we completed two sets.
“Credit to Hunslet, they played the conditions far better than us.
“They played their rugby at our end of the field and managed to get two scores, very similar tries.
“That was just a result of field position, we thought.
“In the second half we looked to play down their end, control the ball a lot better an almost do the same thing to Hunslet as they’d done to us.
“We came up with three tries to get in front and then came up with a couple of lucky ones towards the back end.
“But you make your own luck by playing at that end of the field.”
Rhinos showed much greater enthusisam in the second half.
But Plume cautioned: “Every player who puts their boots and shirt on and goes on to the rugby field wants to be there.
“It is a tough place to be, but I think there was a realisation in the second half that if they didn’t pull their socks up and roll their sleeves up a bit, the game could get away from them.
“I think that was a telling thing.”
Rhinos suffered one injury scare with Mitch Achurch, the oldest player in the team at 26, needing hospital treatment after the game for a facial injury.
“He got a finger in an eye,” Plume confirmed. We’re hoping it’s nothing too serious and everyone else is fine – just cold.”