LEEDS RHINOS’ defence is improving, but they need to manage games better when they are ahead.
So says their England Knights prop Mikolaj Oledzki in the wake of Rhinos’ 28-24 win over Hull KR at Emerald Headingley two days ago.
Rhinos led 28-0 with 50 minutes played, but then conceded four converted tries without reply and were hanging on in the final moments.
The win lifted them one place to 10th in Betfred Super League and extended Rhinos’ winning run at home in all competitions to four matches.
But in all three of those Super League wins Rhinos have built a big lead and then seen the opposition hit back to out-score them in the second half.
They beat Castleford Tigers 21-20 in golden point extra-time after being 20-4 ahead and were 30-0 up at half-time of the 38-18 win over Huddersfield Giants.
I think it’s just game control and making the right decisions and controlling the defence.Mikolaj Oledzki
Oledzki admitted they can’t afford to keep allowing opposing teams back into the contest, but insisted the fact Leeds have managed to come out on top in recent games at Headingley, after being beaten from winning positions earlier in the campaign, is a big positive.
“It’s something we need to work on,” Oledzki admitted of the recent poor second halves.
“I think everyone can see and we know ourselves we can score points. That’s not the problem.
“I think it’s just game control and making the right decisions and controlling the defence.
“There has been a few times now where we’ve had a very good first half and in the second half we get caught out, but a few weeks ago we would have given that [Sunday’s] game away because we weren’t defending as a team.
“We defended to the last minute and the last second and I think in that area we have improved a lot.
“We are starting to come together as a team and we are defending as a team.”
Rhinos have leaked an average of more than 26 points per game in Super League this year.
Oledzki admitted they are “still conceding too many points”, but reckons there are positive signs.
“We are not throwing games away like we used to,” he said.
“We are able to hold on to leads and finish games on top and I think we are getting better and better as the weeks go on.
“We had a few changes on Sunday, but even the lads who played out of position did their roles and worked for their team-mates, so that was good.”
Rhinos came through the Easter period of three games in 10 days with two wins and are now two points clear of bottom club London Broncos going into Friday’s clash at Salford Red Devils.
“We had to change something,” Oledzki said.
“We couldn’t keep coming away with losses every week. Our standards are higher than that.
“I think all the players and staff know as a team we weren’t delivering.
“We had to really roll our sleeves up and change something and the last few weeks we have set ourselves targets and goals.”
The pack man added: “We are just trying to tick off the games and start climbing up the ladder.”