STRUGGLING CHAMPIONS Leeds Rhinos face a “massive” game when lowly Wakefield Trinity Wildcats visit Headingley tomorrow.
Carl Ablett, who will not feature in the game, admits Leeds have to start building some form after a disastrous opening to their First Utility Super League defence.
Rhinos have won just two of their initial seven fixtures and missed a chance to break into the top-eight when they lost 18-14 at Castleford Tigers last Thursday.
Wildcats climbed from bottom to 10th in the table following their win over Huddersfield Giants on Friday and have now scored more points than Leeds, though they have played one extra game.
“Obviously it’s massive,”Ablett said of Leeds’ latest derby. “The run we are in, we haven’t picked up some great performances, so it’s a really important one and we need to start getting some form back.”
Ablett has played two games since returning from injury, but will not feature against Wakefield in order to give his damaged ankle extra time to heal.
“At this time of the year it is vital you’ve got as many fit men as you can,” he said.
“Wakey will bring it to us, so we’ve got to attack them.
“It is going to be tough playing two games in the space of four days, but that’s what we’ve been dealt and we have to go out there and do our best.”
Leeds hit back from 12-0 down to lead by four points at the Jungle before Jake Webster’s late try shattered their hopes of a second successive victory.
Ablett admitted Rhinos have to learn lessons after failing to close the game out.
“Obviously it was a local derby and they had come off a tough loss so it was always going to be a battle, a very physical one,” he said.
“You’ve got to give credit to them. They hung in there in the end and the amount of ball they had on our line probably told.
“It is a tough one to take, but these are the lessons we’ve got to learn this year and the sooner we learn them the better.
“It is tough to take at the minute, but I think it will stand us in good stead as the season unfolds.”
Of last week’s game, he added: “We knew they would come out firing and to be fair they put on some good plays and broke us down a little bit.
“But we regrouped, showed a bit of character and at the back end of the first half we looked threatening.
“We could have posted a few more points and we went in at half-time reasonably happy, but in the second half weight of possession probably told in their favour.
“You can’t give a side who attack as good as Cas do that amount of ball on your tryline and in the end we ran out of gas.
“We just didn’t have enough. We hung in there physically, but we probably weren’t smart enough.
“There were too many penalties and if you give them too much ball they make you pay for it.
“We learned a harsh lesson, but the thing is we go again on Monday.”