BOSS BRIAN McDermott did not hide his delight after Leeds Rhinos finished the season on a positive note with a 37-12 win over promoted Leigh Centurions.
The result means they have finished top of the First Utility Qualifers on points difference from Leigh after they both won six of their seven games.
Rhinos were without nine players due to injury and another three who are on loan at Featherstone Rovers, but dominated Leigh – who were unbeaten since April – from start to finish.
McDermott said: “I thought it was a great performance, the best we’ve had for some time – especially defensively.
“I don’t think we played a Leigh team that were off. We didn’t see the best of Leigh,but that was to do with our defence.”
McDermott paid tribute to the attitude of his players, who were backing up from a defeat at Huddersfield Giants four days earlier, which ended their seven-game winning run.
“Brad Singleton was fantastic, he has had a really super middle-eights,” McDermott said. “Some of the tough times we’ve had this year will be very beneficial. He has had to really stand up. I don’t think he got the idea of that until round 15-18 – that you have got to stand up and start to lead – but at the back end he was great.
“A few of them have – Brett Ferres was great and if we had 13 Jamie Jones-Buchanans we would not lose many games.”
Kallum Watkins landed four kicks from eight attempts, his first goals from the club. McDermott said the centre – who was Leeds’ only ever-present this year – took kicking duties because Liam Sutcliffe was carrying a groin injury.
Rhinos were the last Super League team to finish playing last year and the first this term, but the coach insisted the extended pre-season will benefit the club next year.
McDermott spoke to the fans on the field after the game last night, telling the 14,747 crowd: “The huge positive from this year is you have been fantastic. I have never seen support like it.”
Skipper Danny McGuire also thanked the supporters and insisted: “We can’t wait for next year.”
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