BOSS BRIAN McDermott saluted a “pretty good” performance after Leeds Rhinos avoided a Ladbrokes Challenge Cup shock last night.
Rhinos eased into August’s semi-final double-header at Bolton with a 52-22 win over Betfred Championship side Leigh Centurions.
Rhinos were trailing 6-0 after eight minutes when Leigh full-back Peter Mata’utia was sent off for a dangerous tackle on Matt Parcell.
Leeds’ Brett Ferres and Leigh’s Jamie Acton were sin-binned together late on and Centurions finished with 10 men after Matty Dawson-Jones was red carded for dissent on the final play.
McDermott said: “They are a good team, they had some form coming into this game and they’ve got a lot of players with Super League experience.
“I think the gap between the top Championship teams and the Super League teams is as close as it’s ever going to get for a while.
“The form we are in at the moment and some of the injuries we’ve got and some of the injuries we’ve incurred tonight, it was a pretty solid performance.
“It was a tough performance. We showed some toughness which we probably haven’t been showing in recent weeks.”
McDermott felt Mata’utia’s red card was a major factor in the game, but was justified.
“You can argue he’s been one of their best performers so far this year,” he said.
We showed some toughness which we probably haven’t been showing in recent weeks.Leeds Rhinos’ boss, Brian McDermott
“The fact he left the field made it an easier day for us, I’ve no drama admitting that.
“I don’t think the player meant to do it, but it was a sending-off.”
Rhinos were reduced to 14 fit players in the first half and McDermott admitted that was a concern.
Parcell suffered concussion, but is expected to be available for next Friday’s visit of Huddersfield Giants in Betfred Super League.
But Carl Ablett (calf) and Jimmy Keinhorst (hamstring) both suffered muscle tears and are likely to miss that game.
“I am wondering what my team’s going to be like next week,” said McDermott.
The semi-final draw will be made on Sunday afternoon with both ties to be staged in a double-header on Sunday, August 5.