WE JUST weren’t good enough! That was full-back Liam Sutcliffe’s assessment after Leeds Rhinos suffered yet another defeat to one of Betfred Super League’s strugglers.
Today’s 28-20 loss at 12th-placed Widnes Vikings came less than two months after Rhinos were beaten at then-bottom club Warrington Wolves and little more than five weeks on from a home setback against lowly Huddersfield Giants.
Leeds had crushed Warrington 40-0 at Headingley just three days earlier, but Sutcliffe said fatigue was no excuse and admitted Rhinos were well below-par.
Widnes were also in action last Friday and Sutcliffe said: “Two games in three days is tough, but it is the same for every team and we just weren’t good enough.
“We weren’t there today. There’s a fair bit to look at this week.”
Rhinos – who are at home to another bottom-four club Leigh Centurions on Friday – led by 10 points in the first half and were two ahead inside the final 10 minutes, but two late tries condemned them to a third defeat in five Super League games.
“They came out really fired up and threw everything at us,” Sutcliffe added.
“We knew they were going to do that, but what we threw at them wasn’t good enough defensively and offensively.
“The best thing about rugby league is there’s always the next game.
“We will look at what we did wrong in this game and we’ll be ready to go again on Friday.”
Boss Brian McDermott insisted Rhinos didn’t lack effort, but said they weren’t smart enough.
He felt the try which edged them 20-18 ahead 11 minutes from time “should have been enough”, but admitted Leeds gifted Widnes too much field position with poor last-tackle plays.
He said: “People talk about effort and desire.
“I don’t think we lacked any of that, but I don’t think we had some on-field intelligence at times. I thought we lacked that.
“Widnes fought for absolutely everything. We found it hard to break them down and they made us look a bit six out of 10 with the ball at times.
“I have got to question should we have been so easily put off our game?
“Right until the death we found it hard to break them down and to get any momentum.
“We found it hard to complete a defensive set when they were coming away from their try line.
“We were either guilty of indiscipline or maybe the referee was over-zealous. I don’t know, but we lacked a lot of field position and momentum.
“Maybe that too a bit too much juice out of us at half-time.”
Leeds led 14-12 at the interval, but McDermott conceded: “I didn’t think we were in control at half-time.
“Widnes are fighting for their lives. Denis [Betts] got a reaction from them and credit to them.”
Despite the short turnaround from their previous game McDermott used only three substitutes, with Josh Walters left on the bench throughout.
Explaining that tactic, McDermott said: “I don’t think energy was the issue. The dynamics of the game let us down, not energy.”
Rhinos were without captain Danny McGuire due to a foot injury, but McDermott is hopeful he will be available for Friday’s game.