BOSS Brian McDermott felt Leeds Rhinos were “flattered” by the 30-8 win over Salford Red Devils.
Leeds’ fourth successive victory in the First Utility Qualifiers was a huge step towards retaining their place in Super League next year.
Leeds trailed briefly in the first half and were only 10-8 ahead at the interval before taking control in the final 40.
McDermott said: “It was very pleasing. We planned for playing a bit more open then we ended up doing, but you have got to give Salford some credit for that. We struggled to get some ruck momentum.
“That wasn’t because we weren’t running hard enough or playing smart enough. I thought Salford were great defensively to start with.
“We got a bit more cohesion in the second half, but it was a tight game. The anxiety of being in these games probably gets to you a bit. Even in this crazy season we have played better with the ball than that.
“But we played solid and defended solid. I think the 30-8 scoreline probably flattered us a bit. It looks like we won easily. I don’t think that was the case.”
Rhinos are top of the Qualifiers table with three games left and McDermott added: “Considering all the things this group doesn’t normally have to consider, I think they have handled themselves incredibly well.”
Forward Stevie Ward came off the bench in the second half for his first game in almost a year.
“It was good to see him back,” McDermott said. “He was good.
“It’s an incredibly tough sport. To be out for a year and get dropped back in there, I thought he handled it okay.”
McDermott described fellow back-rower Jamie Jones-Buchanan as “brilliant” and also hailed the contribution of teenage half-back Jordan Lilley.
He kicked four goals from as many attempts after coming on at the break in place of full-back Liam Sutcliffe.
He was suffering with a back injury, but McDermott said “I think he’s okay.”
Joel Moon was substituted early in the second half after suffering a groin problem.
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