Leeds Rhinos: Team looking to bounce back at Widnes

Brian McDermott
Brian McDermott
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LEEDS RHINOS need to bounce back on Widnes Vikings’ plastic pitch, admits boss Brian McDermott.

But the coach insists Rhinos are not far off the standard they set earlier in the campaign, despite not winning either of their previous two games.

A stunning 41-16 victory at St Helens on April 18 lifted Rhinos six points clear at the top of First Utility Super League.

But that advantage was halved following a heavy home loss to Warrington Wolves and the 24-24 draw at Huddersfield Giants nine days ago, which came after Rhinos had led 22-8 at half-time.

Leeds will still top the table going into next weekend’s Ladbrokes Challenge Cup break, whatever happens tomorrow, but McDermott conceded they can not afford another slip-up.

“Of course we are (looking to get back to winning ways),” said McDermott. “But, at the same time, it (last week’s game) was a great example of what a performance is about.

“The first half, we were very good with the ball. We didn’t really get challenged as much by Huddersfield, because they dropped a lot of ball and let us off the hook.

“In the second half, Huddersfield were very good. They are a big, strong, skilful team and when they get it right they are really hard to play.

“In review, I don’t really think we switched off or we were poor in the second half. Yes, there were some things we did, we conceded a bit of penalties and missed some of what you’d call easier tackles than we’d normally miss.

“But they were all on the end of some extended periods defending a really strong Huddersfield team.

“I am keen to highlight that Huddersfield were very good in that second half, it wasn’t that we just switched off and we’ve got some problems to solve.

“We drew the game and we wanted to win, but I thought we showed a fair amount of determination in that second half.”

Rhinos are aiming to complete their first league double of the campaign, after a 38-6 home victory over Widnes in round two, three months ago.

It was 6-6 at the interval and Leeds led by only eight points deep into the final quarter, before scoring four converted tries in a devastating 10-minute

spell. Widnes have lost just once at home this term and McDermott said stand-off Kevin Brown is a player Rhinos will need to keep in check tomorrow.

“It was really tight in the first half when we played them at home,” McDermott recalled.

“If I remember rightly, they played within themselves that day. They missed Kevin Brown and I think their coach Denis Betts will have come away thinking they needed to give a better account of themselves.

“But equally it was tough and tight for the first 40 and I imagine with Kevin Brown being back in the team they are going to be a decent team.

“They are a good footballing team, they know how to put a play on and how to find a pass.

“We will need to be switched on for a whole number of reasons and I think defensively we need to be very very good.”

Meanwhile, the RFL have confirmed they will be taking no action over allegations of biting in last week’s game at Huddersfield.

Giants stand-off Danny Brough claimed one of his teammates had been bitten by a Rhinos player late in the game.

And there were allegations on social media that a Huddersfield player had sunk his teeth into Rhinos’ Zak Hardaker –who was not the Leeds man accused by Brough.

The RFL’s match review panel did not issue any charges from the match and an RFL spokesman confirmed no allegations were made to the match referee at the time and neither club has made a complaint.

Rhinos face Huddersfield in the Challenge Cup sixth round at Headingley a week today.