INTERIM-BOSS Richard Agar was pleased, but not relieved, after Leeds Rhinos won in the capital to secure Betfred Super League survival.
Rhinos’ 36-10 success lifted them four points clear of bottom club London Broncos with two rounds remaining.
Leeds’ vastly superior for and against – they are on minus eight while London’s is negative 277 – ensures, barring a series of unlikely freak results, Rhinos will retain their top-flight place for 2020.
Leeds have been in relegation danger all year – spending several weeks bottom of the table – but Agar, who took charge in May, insisted he always believed they would stay up.
“After the St Helens away game we thought we could get the job [survival] done in six or seven games,” Agar said.
“We’ve done it in eight. There’s been a couple of opportunities missed and everybody else has won plenty of games to keep it a real battle.
“I am pleased we’ve got the job done, but I wouldn’t say relieved. I was always confident eight games ago that we could get it done and get it done before the last two games, which has proved to be the case,”
Rhinos led 18-0 at half-time, but London cut the gap to eight points before three tries in the final 13 minutes sent Leeds’ huge travelling support home happy.
Agar felt the performance was “not very good at all” though he admitted he was happy with his team’s defensive effort.
“To keep them to nil at half-time, there were some great last-ditch, try-saving efforts,” Agar said.
“The way we finished the game defensively, I thought, was pretty good. But attack-wise, despite scoring 36 points, I don’t think we executed what we planned to do.
“We played a lot of pretty average, one-out football and I would say there was a lot of anxiety about what we were doing.
“But we got it back and finished quite strongly. It was a tough game, on a tough pitch and there was a lot of pressure on the game in terms of what it meant to our season.
“All the teams around us won [on Friday and Saturday] so I am highly delighted the boys stuck together and came through it.
“Performance-wise, there’s a lot to improve on. We were very scruffy for long periods, particularly with the ball, but the commitment and defensive effort was brilliant.”
Agar hailed the “brilliant” support from Leeds’ travelling fans.
“It has been difficult and challenging for them, but they have stuck by us and played a massive part,” he said.
“The boys really appreciate it. They had a real lifting effect on the team at times when they needed it.”
Rhinos will not make an announcement on their coaching situation for 2020 until the current season has finished.
Agar declined to confirm if he would like the job on a permanent basis, but said: “I haven’t had chance to sit down with Gary [Hetherington, Rhinos’ chief executive] or Kev [Sinfield, director of rugby].
“I have said all along all those things will look after themselves. My sole focus has been trying to get the team to play every week.
“I will sit down and have a chat with Gary and Kev and I’ll respect whatever they want to do. I have said all along it’s a great job, one of the biggest in the game and I have been unbelievably honoured and privileged to be in this position.”