LEEDS Rhinos will be doubly motivated to extend their winning run to six matches when they take on Harlequins at Headingley Carnegie tonight.
Memories are still fresh of the Londoners’ shock 36-26 win on the same ground three months ago – and boss Brian McDermott believes that will add spice to tonight’s Challenge Cup fifth round showdown.
The Engage Super League defeat to Quins began a slump which saw Leeds win only two of their next seven games.
McDermott said securing a place in the cup quarter-finals is Rhinos’ priority, but he admitted they have a point to prove against his former club.
“There will be a lot in this game,” said McDermott, who spent four years at Quins before rejoining Rhinos last October.
“It means a lot to the players. This team beat us the last time we played them – they put 36 points on us at Headingley and we have got unfinished business.
“We feel we need to set the record straight.”
Victory in tonight’s tie would earn Rhinos their 12th Challenge Cup quarter-final appearance in 16 summer seasons.
Rhinos haven’t won the trophy since 1999 – when they beat the then-London Broncos in the final – and are desperate to make up for the crushing disappointment of last year’s Wembley drubbing by Warrington Wolves.
“It’s a Challenge Cup game and that’s important for us,” McDermott added.
“We are not reading anything into form or league positions.
“It is a game that gets you through to the quarter-finals and we are excited about that.”
The Super League win over Leeds, on February 25, lifted Quins into top spot in the table, with three wins in as many matches.
But they have won only two out of 12 games in all competitions since then, their victories coming at St Helens a fortnight after the Leeds win and away to Gateshead Thunder in the Cup two weeks ago.
Despite their recent results, McDermott expects Quins to have spells in tonight’s game when they are on top and he predicted the result will be decided by how well Rhinos handle that.
“They will be a threat, because they have come here and won before and because it is the Challenge Cup,” McDermott, pictured above, warned.
“There are no second chances and maybe people do panic a bit if there are periods when you go behind.
“In a league game you ride it out and have a bit of patience, but in the Challenge Cup you get a bit twitchy.
“We handled that pretty well against Crusaders in the last round.
“They had some ascendency, but we showed a lot of composure and control and we’ll have to do the same again.”