Rhyse Martin’s relief at getting back to winning ways with Leeds Rhinos

RELIEF WAS the main emotion in Leeds Rhinos’ camp after they finally ended their five-match losing run, goal kicker Rhyse Martin admits.

By Peter Smith
Monday, 17th May 2021, 4:45 am
Rhyse Martin scores Leeds Rhinos' first try against Wakefield Trinity. Picture: Bruce Rollinson.
Rhyse Martin scores Leeds Rhinos' first try against Wakefield Trinity. Picture: Bruce Rollinson.

The Papua New Guinea captain booted an extra-time penalty against Wakefield Trinity last Friday to snatch a 15-13 win, moving Leeds up one place to eighth in the Betfred Super League table.

It was only Leeds’ second victory in 2021, both of them coming against the same opposition at Emerald Headingley and they did it the hard way, after trailing 8-0 early on and 10-6 at half-time.

Rhinos hit back to lead twice in the second half, only for Wakefield to level each time and send the game into golden point and Martin admitted it was a “relief” to get back to winning ways.

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Rhyse Martin is tackled by the Wakefield Trinity defence. Picture: Bruce Rollinson.

He said: “It wasn’t a pretty win, but any win at the moment for us is good, so it was just good to get back in the winners’ circle.”

The second-rower did not celebrate after booting the decisive goal – following a ball steal by Jay Pitts on King Vuniyayawa after the tackle was ruled to be complete – and he admitted Leeds’ scrappy performance took much of the gloss off the victory.

“The game was over, it was just a relief, pretty much, for me,” Martin added.

“The way we played as a team, we can’t really go off and celebrate too hard.

Konrad Hurrell scores Rhinos' second try against Wakefield Trinity. Picture: Bruce Rollinson.

“I was just happy we got there in the end and got the two points.”

Trinity have not won since beating Leeds last October and both teams were missing a host of first-choice players, with James Donaldson and Bodene Thompson the latest to join Rhinos’ casualty list.

But Riche Myler is now available after a two-match ban and Zane Tetevano will also return against Hull on Sunday after completing a four-game suspension. Martin reckons their inclusion and getting a win under their belt will give Leeds a boost.

“It will definitely make this week a lot happier, he predicted.

Fit-again Luke Gale on the attack against Wakefield. Picture: Bruce Rollinson.

“It has been a bit tough the last couple of weeks with some of the performances we’ve turned out, but the best thing about it is we’ve never lost heart.

“You saw [last Friday] we never gave up. We will never give up on each other and keep fighting right to the end.”

Martin was back in the starting line-up against Wakefield, having been relegated to the bench for the previous game, at Huddersfield Giants.

He has had a difficult start to the campaign, after contracting coronavirus during pre-season and also having had to play out of position at stand-off in two matches because of Rhinos’ injury crisis.

Last Friday’s match-winning kick was a near-formality, from almost in front of the posts, but Martin had earlier got Rhinos back into contention by crashing over for a close-range try, which he also improved and edging Leeds ahead with a conversion from out wide following Konrad Hurrell’s touchdown.

“I think it was my best game of the year so far,” Martin reflected. “I just want to stay consistent now and build off that performance.

“The last couple of weeks have been pretty tough for myself and I was just happy to have a good game.”

The win three days ago was the last game at Headingley behind closed doors. Leeds will play in front of a crowd for the first time since March 5 last year when a total of 4,000 fans are admitted to Sunday’s home clash with Hull.

“I can’t wait for fans to come back,” Martin admitted. “It will be a shock to the system, but I think everyone will be excited for it. The atmosphere will be electric, I reckon, after what we’ve gone through in the last couple of months. I am just glad people can get out and come to games again.”

Meanwhile, Leeds Rhinos Under-19s enjoyed a thumping 54-0 victory at London Broncos Under-19s yesterday in their first game back after 13 months.

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