Leeds Rhinos: Strong defence built platform for that something special – Mac

Leeds Rhinos celebrate with the 'League Leaders' shield
Leeds Rhinos celebrate with the 'League Leaders' shield
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BOSS Brian McDermott reckons Leeds Rhinos’ defence came good at just the right time.

McDermott felt Rhinos’ defensive effort laid the platform for the last-gasp 20-16 win at Huddersfield Giants, which secured their first League Leaders’ Shield since 2009.

Leeds had lost their three previous games, conceding a total of 107 points, but restricted Giants to just two tries and McDermott said: “Both defences were very, very good.

“I thought we got our honesty back in defence, it was very tough and very honest and when we needed somebody to show up they did.

“That’s pretty much why we were in a position to get it at the end.”

Leeds had trailed 16-8 inside the final 10 minutes and McDermott admitted he feared the game was up.

“I didn’t think we had the momentum or impetus to turn that game around,” he conceded.

“So to go and score a try and Kev [Sinfield] to nail the conversion from the touchline and then kick a penalty; then for Magsy [Danny McGuire] to have the influence to set the winning try up for Hally [Ryan Hall] it had a typical Leeds finish in there.

“We needed to come up with something special to get the game. To go for the penalty to draw it raised a few eyebrows, but we wanted a home draw in the semi-finals. People will say, with 90 seconds left, why wouldn’t you go for a run? But we didn’t have the momentum or the assurity of offense.

“We didn’t have the confidence in offense that we certainly had in defence, so I thought it was a smart call by Kev and the team to do that. And we have people like Danny McGuire and Ryan Hall in the team, who can do special things.”

McDermott is awaiting an update on Stevie Ward, who suffered a knee ligament injury. He said: “It is a shame, because he has been one of our top performers this year.”