A FIRST Super League try spared young half-back Jordan Lilley’s blushes, as well as helping Leeds Rhinos to a crucial win.
Lilley touched down in the second half of the 20-18 success over Hull three days ago, as well as kicking four goals from as many attempts.
The 19-year-old’s try edged Leeds in front for the third time in the game and was a big moment in their third victory of the campaign.
It also meant he will be spared the embarrassing ritual of the nude run – an annual end-of-season punishment for players who fail to score a try during the season.
There are no exceptions, not even for a player with only four appearances to his name – as Lilley was last term.
“It was brilliant,” Lilley said of his first Leeds four-pointer. “It means at the end of the year I am not going to have to do the naked run.
“I had to do it last year, it is a tradition for the group. It is good I won’t have to do it this year, but it was more important to get the try for the group and help us get back to winning ways and hopefully progress up the table.”
Lilley played the full game in his specialist half-back role, and he said: “I felt confident out there.
“I say every time I am interviewed I am a confident young man and I believe in my ability.
“There was some stuff out there that was a bit scratchy on my behalf and some kicks I should have done better, but I am still learning.
“I am still learning the game and learning the position and the role I am meant to be playing in the team.
“It is coming for me. I am happy with my performance, but obviously I put a big emphasis on the stuff I did wrong and I want to improve that, rather than focusing on the stuff I did right, so I can get an overall, rounded performance.”
Lilley has been in the 17 for all but one of Rhinos’ 12 competitive games this year.
Leeds’ poor form for most of the season so far has made it a tough campaign for the rookie, but he insisted: “The novelty of playing Super League hasn’t worn off yet.
“I am still loving it, I am still pinching myself that I am doing it and I am playing alongside the players I am. It is still a dream come true for me.
“When I take the field I give 110 per cent and if that’s good enough, it’s good enough.
“If it’s not, it’s not, but luckily on Friday it was.”
Friday’s victory ended a four-game losing run and lifted Leeds Rhinos a place to 10th in the First Utility Super League standings.
“The last few weeks, we haven’t got the wins,” added Lilley.
“But we have picked little things from each game that we’ve done well and each week we are trying to improve the areas we weren’t too good at.
“Last week, against Salford, we were quite poor in attack.
“I think we fixed that up and looked better in attack against Hull. Each week we are getting better at certain things.
“We are nowhere near where we want to be, but if we can grind out wins like we did on Friday it goes a long way.
“And it shows the spirit of the group and how tight we are.”
Lilley believes Rhinos can still finish in the top-eight.
He added: “Even when we are losing games and everyone’s writing us off, we’re still confident we will get there.
“It is a long season and, hopefully, we’ve got our defeats out of the way early in the season.
“We will learn from what we’ve gone through and, hopefully, we can progress at Saints this week, which will be a tough task.”