THREE DEFEATS in their last four matches have turned up the pressure, but Liam Sutcliffe remains confident Leeds Rhinos can finish the season on a high.
In less than a month Rhinos have been knocked out of the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup and seen their hold on second spot in the Betfred Super-8s reduced to just one point.
They face a vital game on Friday night, at home to fifth-placed St Helens, when Rhinos will be looking to bounce back from last week’s 38-6 drubbing at Wakefield Trinity.
Sutcliffe admitted Leeds weren’t good enough – just six days after a fine win over defending champions Wigan Warriors – but insisted they are still in good shape to reach October’s Grand Final.
“Wakey played well all night,” Sutcliffe reflected.
“From first minute to last they were really good and obviously we are disappointed with what we threw at them and conceding that many points.
“But we are still confident in how we can go and how we can move forward in the rest of these Super-8s.
“We will review it and hopefully kick on.”
Sutcliffe said there were “a few things” which let Rhinos down last week and will need to be worked on for Friday, which will be the last game before Headingley’s South Stand is demolished.
“We were a bit scratchy with the ball,” he conceded.
“We forced some things we didn’t want to force and Wakey took advantage.
“It was a complete contrast to how we were the game before.
“Going in at half-time we were still confident we could pull those points back, but credit to Wakefield, they saw it out.
“We will have to be better this week. Saints are flying high at the moment and with their new coach [Justin Holbrook] they have improved massively.
“They have got some great results under their belt.
“They are coming to Headingley and there’s no better place to turn a team over.
“We really want to put a performance in and get things right.”
Rhinos have responded well to defeats this year, but Sutcliffe admitted it is not a habit they want to be in.
“We were really pleased with the performance against Wigan and we wanted to kick on and keep improving week on week,” he said.
“We were really disappointed, but hopefully we will put things right this week.”
Hopes of a home semi-final remain in Rhinos’ hands.
“We don’t want other results to determine where we finish,” Sutcliffe stressed.
“We want to put a stamp on these Super-8s and really show what we are all about.
“Hopefully we will have a good performance this week. It will be a massive event.
“I think the whole night will be really big, especially for the supporters. They will be saying ’bye to the South Stand and hopefully we can put on a good performance to give it a good send off.”