Leeds Rhinos: No positives to take from derby-day defeat admits Liam Sutcliffe

THERE WERE no positives to take from Leeds Rhinos’ latest defeat, Liam Sutcliffe says.

Saturday, 18th May 2019, 6:05 am
Liam Sutcliffe is tackled by Jake Trueman and Peter Mata'utia.

Rhinos lost for the 11th time in 15 Betfred Super League games when Castleford Tigers beat them 30-8 at Emerald Headingley on Thursday. That left Rhinos just two points clear of bottom club London Broncos – who play host to Wakefield Trinity today and face Leeds at the Magic Weekend clash in eight days’ time.

Rhinos led 2-0 early on against Tigers, through a Sutcliffe penalty goal, but were 10 points adrift at the interval and finished well beaten.

“It was another disappointing night, defence-wise especially,” Sutcliffe admitted of the derby reverse.

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Liam Sutcliffe.

“They just seemed to roll us down the field and we didn’t get hold of it.”

There was more effort shown than five days earlier when Leeds were knocked out of the Coral Challenge Cup by Bradford Bulls. “We can take something out of that,” Sutcliffe added.

“That was a big focus of ours going into the game after a disappointing effort last week.

“The effort was there, but there’s a lot of things we need to improve on.

“It’s disappointing, we know we are miles better than this.

“We’re just not seeming to put a performance together and it’s showing on the field.

“It’s pretty obvious how we are playing and it is hard at the moment.”

The departure of coach Dave Furner, who was sacked almost two weeks ago, has brought about no improvement in results or performances, but Sutcliffe reckons effort in training holds the key to Leeds climbing out of their current hole.

He said: “We’ve just got to keep working hard in training and then go from there.

“We’ve got to fix everything up in training.

“There’s things going wrong that we know about and we keep looking at and we’ve got to work hard on them in training a bit more.”

There are no indications Rhinos are close to appointing a new head coach so Richard Agar is likely to continue in his interim role for next week’s crucial game.

Agar, the former Hull and Wakefield boss, joined Rhinos in the off-season as head of player and coach development and stepped up to become Furner’s assistant when James Lowes left the club last month.

“He would not have expected this, he had a different job he was happy with so he has kind of jumped in at the deep end when we’re not doing so great,” Sutcliffe said.

“He has been good with us, but we have to fix it up on the pitch.”

A win next week could open a four-point gap on London, but Rhinos will need a major improvement across the field.

Though Broncos have lost eight successive games since an 18-16 win at Emerald Headingley two months ago, Danny Ward’s men will scent blood and a possible last chance to beat the drop.

“It’s a massive game,” Sutcliffe admitted.

“We are both at the bottom of the table.

“You wouldn’t have thought it would be a relegation battle, but it is looking that way.

“We’ve got a long turnaround so we’ve got to rest up and go again on Sunday.”

Sutcliffe claimed Rhinos’ focus next week will be coming up with a better performance rather than where they are on the table.

“We’ve not spoken about it,” he said of the league ladder.

“We are just trying to concentrate on ourselves.”

Sutcliffe was at stand-off against Bulls, started the Tigers game in the second-row and switched to full-back when Tui Lolohea was injured.

“It was unfortunate Tui ended up going off early on,” he reflected.

“I had to slot in at full-back, I have played it before so it’s not a new position, but it is what it is.”