FEAR INSPIRED Leeds Rhinos’ scintillating attacking performance in yesterday’s 50-24 win at Salford Red Devils, coach Brian McDermott revealed.
Rhinos – who led 36-6 at half-time – moved above Salford into second spot on the Betfred Super League table and McDermott admitted they knew they’d have to play well to win.
“It was very good,” McDermott said of his side’s display.
“I thought we were outstanding in the first half and very committed in the second half, but Salford made more of a contest of it in the second half.
“Sometimes when we’ve had a chance of going top of the table for a 48-hour period or certainly second we’ve not quite grasped it in the past.
“We talked about that beforehand and we looked very focused in that first half.
“It is not a false position for Salford, we knew they were a good team and sometimes you’ve got to fear the opposition to bring out the best in you.
“We certainly were on our guard building up for this game. We know they can be extremely good and they showed a fair bit of fight in the second half.
“I’m sure their coach and players will be disappointed, but it wasn’t a pushover in the second half.”
McDermott felt the hot and sunny conditions suited his team and described Leeds’ attacking effort as their best for a “long, long time”.
It is not a false position for Salford, we knew they were a good team and sometimes you’ve got to fear the opposition to bring out the best in you.Brian McDermott
He said: “It’s the first dry track we’ve been on for quite some time and I thought that had a part to play in it as well. We have probably been criticised for not creating enough this season. I don’t think our finishing has been too bad.
“Once we’ve created some stuff this year we’ve been okay in finishing it.
“We created a lot [yesterday]. We don’t have great numbers in comparison to the rest of the comp in terms of line-breaks – we need to improve that when we get into the Super-8s.
“It’s a good reminder of what we can be like.
“In terms of offense, that’s as good as we’ve been for a long, long time.”
Captain Danny McGuire ran Leeds’ attack on his return from a one-game ban.
McDermott said: “His involvement is still of an extremely high quality.
“He would argue his pack did a good job and I thought Ryan Hall was outstanding, it was the most dominant I have seen from Ryan for quite some time.”
Rhinos centre Kallum Watkins suffered concussion in the first half – in a tackle which led to Salford’s Junior Sa’u being sin-binned – and is set to miss Friday’s visit of fourth-placed Hull.
“He was gone – he was asleep, I think I heard him snoring,” McDermott said.
“He’s okay, he’s up and about and I don’t think there’ll be a problem with his return to play, but we will lose him for Friday.”
Salford have said they will ban for life the fan who appeared to throw a drink in the direction of referee James Child at the end of the game.
Chief executive Ian Blease said: “What happened at the end of the game was idiotic and the person responsible has tarnished the name of our great club.
“We would like to sincerely apologise to James Child and his colleagues.”
Meanwhile, the Yorkshire Evening Post understands McGuire is close to announcing a decision on his future.
The 34-year-old seven-time Grand Final winner – and Super League’s top try scorer – is out of contract at the end of this season and is believed to be considering offers from rival clubs.