THERE WERE mixed emotions in Leeds Rhinos’ camp following the 20-20 draw with Wakefield Trinity.
The result ended Rhinos’ record eight-game losing run in Betfred Super League, but left them three points outside the top-eight with only two rounds remaining.
Front-rower Brad Singleton was shattered not to be celebrating a league win for the first time in more than two months, but felt there were encouraging signs in Leeds’ performance.
“It’s mixed emotions,” Singleton reflected after seeing Trinity wipe out a 20-12 deficit in the final 10 minutes.
“Part of me is devastated. Again it was close, it went down to the last few minutes and to lose the two points – again – was really hard to take.
“But then again, we have got something in D [defence] there. We’ve got some energy and change has obviously happened, whether it’s the personnel or collectively we’ve drawn a line in the sand.
“It felt awesome to defend in. Obviously we didn’t deserve the win, we’re not ready for that yet because we didn’t get it.
“There’s technical things where we just missed out and whether it [Trinity’s controversial late touchdown] was a try I don’t know, but it hurts.”
New director of rugby Kevin Sinfield felt Rhinos’ performance – five days after a 42-10 hammering at Castleford Tigers – was a step in the right direction and Singleton agreed.
“The way we defended was the best we’ve defended all year,” he said.
“I personally enjoyed defending like that, it was great, but at the same time it’s disappointing we didn’t come away with the two points.”
Rhinos’ hopes of sneaking into the Super-8s are hanging by a thread. They must beat Widnes Vikings at Emerald Headingley on Friday and win away to Salford Red Devils a week later and hope at least one of the three teams immediately points above them lose both their remaining matches.
“We’re not looking at that,” Singleton insisted. “I think we’re just going to have to take it game by game.
“We’ve broken the losing run, but we only got one point and we’re not any safer than we were.
“We just have to get these next two wins and see where it takes us. We have to keep the same attitude in defence and be a bit smarter in attack and see what happens.”
Sinfield is awaiting his first win since rejoining Leeds, but Singleton is convinced he is the right man to get the club and team back on track.
“Kev’s great, it’s as if he’s never left,” said his former team-mate. “He is the ultimate pro’. You can never question anything he does.
“He was up there, he was the best of the best and I loved playing with him and now I love playing under him.”
Singleton has been named in Rhinos’ new leadership group alongside Kallum Watkins, Stevie Ward, Carl Ablett and Adam Cuthbertson.
With Watkins sidelined for the rest of the year, following a knee reconstruction, the captaincy will be rotated around the other four.
“On a personal level it doesn’t affect me much,” Singleton said. “I like to talk and I hope I lead by my actions.
“It is nice to be mentioned, but there’s leaders all across the park. It is a collective responsibility.”
Singleton is three games into his comeback from a broken thumb which kept him out of action for seven games. Reflecting on his season so far, he said: “I think at the start of the year I went all right. I played big minutes and then I had those games out, which was hard to watch. I only had one training session before the Wigan game so my fitness probably wasn’t great, but at the end of the day I will just do what I can.
“I need to be selfless, if people want me to do 40 tackles I’ll do 40 tackles. It is all about effort with my game and hopefully that shows.”
Meanwhile, Harry Newman scored four tries and Liam Whitton a hat-trick for Rhinos under-19s in a 68-8 win at City of Hull Academy, who had beaten Leeds earlier in the season.
Other try scorers were Kiedan Hartley, Billy Jowitt, Dakota Whylie, Corey Johnson and Spencer Darley. Harvey Spence kicked 10 goals.