Interim coach Richard Agar felt Leeds Rhinos’ humiliating Coral Challenge Cup exit at Bradford Bulls was “as bad as it gets”.
In their first match since boss Dave Furner was sacked last weekend, Leeds were embarrassed 24-22 by their Betfred Championship neighbours.
It was Rhinos’ 11th defeat in 16 competitive fixtures this year and Agar described aspects of their performance as “criminal”.
Leeds got off to a positive start, leading 12-4 after 13 minutes, but were 22-14 adrift at the break and could not claw the deficit back in the second half.
Agar pulled no punches in his post-match summary.
He said: “[There was] a terrible lack of discipline in terms of penalties, in terms of looking after the ball, in terms of working within the systems that have been put in place.
“I thought defensively we looked legless at times, we couldn’t win anywhere near enough tackles and I think as the game went on we were just pinballing, [going] side to side and coming up with poor decisions.
“It became very much an individual performance and who can come up with a play, rather than going through any sort of offensive process and playing with your eyes up.”
Agar admitted: “We talked before the game about this type of game and gifting energy to the opposition.
“In the first set we go flying out of the line and open up a line break - then not catching kick-offs, it has probably been symptomatic of the season so far, but I thought we took it to a whole new level.
“If you look down the respective rosters, we had a very strong team out - with the greatest respect to Bradford - but I thought they played collectively with more energy than us and didn’t come up with the same lacks of discipline and errors.
“We probably got what we deserved.”
A late conversion attempt by Liam Sutcliffe bounced away off a post, but Agar felt it would “probably have been a little bit unjust” if Leeds had managed to squeeze through.
“The way we went about it always left us chasing the game,” he conceded.
“I don’t think we’d have had to do much more to come up with something down at their end at times, but it became so disjointed and error-ridden.
“Turning the ball over on last plays without asking too many questions and competing on last plays is just criminal and not up to standard.”
Agar accepted it had been a “mentally testing and fatiguing week” following Furner’s exit, but stressed: “That would just be diverting attention away from our performance.”
Rhinos have a short turnaround to Thursday’s Super League derby against Castleford Tigers which will mark the completion of Emerald Headingley’s £45m development.
Agar said: “We have seen some performances like this and some turnaround before.
“We’ve got to look at what we do earlier in the week, there’s some things we’ve got to try and address and find out what our short term wins are going to be because from a morale stand point that’s as bad as it gets.
“We are in a really critical position, there’s no shying away from the fact we’ve got to roll our sleeves up and dig in and try and fix up some of the mistakes and poor discipline and poor efforts we’ve seen in defence.”