EIGHT-TIME CHAMPIONS Leeds Rhinos’ season has lurched deeper into crisis and boss Kevin Sinfield admits they wasted a golden opportunity to take some of the pressure off.
Rhinos remain second in the Qualifiers table following their 38-36 home loss to Hull KR, but are one of four teams on four points.
The top-three after the next four games will secure a Betfred Super League spot for next year, with the fourth-placed side at home to the team immediately below them in the million pound match.
A win would have gone a long way towards securing Rhinos’ top-flight status and Sinfield said: “You are hoping you create a bit of a buffer, but we’ve not been good enough to do that.
“I’ve said in the past while I’ve been at this club, we have to find a tough way to do it. We have to do it again.”
Rhinos have won only two of their last 14 meetings with Super League opposition, both against Sunday’s hosts Widnes Vikings. They led by 10 points in the second half against Rovers and Sinfield admitted the loss was tough to take.
“When you concede 38 points at home you get what you deserve,” Sinfield said.
“We weren’t prepared to be ruthless enough to kill the game off.
“Whilever we lack that killer instinct we were always open for Hull KR to have a crack back at us and they did.
“They are desperate, so are we, but at crucial moments we probably weren’t desperate enough.”
When you concede 38 points at home you get what you deserve. We weren’t prepared to be ruthless enough to kill the game off.Kevin Sinfield
Sinfield insisted: “I think we did some really good stuff with the ball, but we conceded too many linebreaks and too many times we got opened up down the middle, which we talked about and worked on and we weren’t good enough there.”
Craig Hall kicked the winning conversion for Rovers after Junior Vaivai had forced his way over with 13 minutes left. Vaivai had three defenders on him and Sinfield said: “To concede any try on your goalline like that is disappointing.
“I think all the tries were disappointing, especially one from that close range. There were plenty of bodies there.”
Acting-captain Carl Ablett suffered a knee injury in the first half and Stevie Ward left the ground with a foot in a protective boot.
Ablett is due to be scanned, but Sinfield reported: “It doesn’t look too good.
“He has been going really well for us. We missed him out there.
“It is one of those things. Other teams are going to get injuries and have to cop it and try and get through and we’ll have to do the same. We have got some blokes who’ve been tearing up trees desperate to get a game.
“That’s the disappointing thing for me and the underlying message I’d give – you see the result of a week or two weeks’ work and that doesn’t mirror how we’ve trained.
“There’s some real positives behind the scenes in what we are doing and how we’re going about things, but we didn’t get the rewards and we weren’t good enough.As soon as we can get that to translate on to the field we’ll be in a far better place.”