DELIGHTED BOSS Dave Furner gave his Leeds Rhinos players a “massive rap” after yesterday’s precious 38-18 win over Huddersfield Giants.
Rhinos produced their best 40 minutes of the season to lead 30-0 at the break and survived a strong Giants fightback in the second half.
Leeds’ third Betfred Super League win of the year lifted them off the bottom of the table, above London Broncos on points difference.
“It was a really good first half,” Furner reflected.
“But it was more the resilience the squad’s shown in a situation where we had 12 men for 20 minutes, had a head knock [to Liam Sutcliffe] and lost Konrad Hurrell.
“The team not using that as an excuse and turning up for each other, we will take a lot out of that. I am not sure a month ago we would hold that game, to be honest, so [it was] a real good positive for the group.
“There’s certainly some areas to work on, but it was a tremendous effort, that resilience for the team.”
Rhinos had Tom Briscoe sin-binned in the first half, Nathaniel Peteru was shown a yellow card late on and Hurrell suffered hamstring damage in the opening quarter.
“I am not sure how bad it is,” said Furner – whose team are back in derby action at Wakefield trinity on Monday – of his star centre’s injury.
“There’s a couple of players that are a little bit busted which we will have to assess [today] and Sunday.”
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Turn to page 35
Being a man down for a quarter of the game, in hot conditions, took its toll, but Furner was happy with the “clinical” nature of Leeds’ performance in the first half.
Rhinos ran in five tries before the interval and he said: “I am pleased for the players.
“We have been working hard to try and master and 80-minute performance and there was some adversity there that the team got over, which was pleasing to see as a coach.”
Off-season signings Tui Lolohea and James Donaldson both crossed for their first try in Leeds colours to earn praise from Furner.
He noted “Donno played in the middle unit and did a very good job and at one stage he was back in the back-row so he chopped and changed.
“He is an experienced player. Tui has been working very hard at positional play at full-back, I think he is a natural full-back and I thought he was very dominant in a lot of areas.
“That was good to see.”
Furner was also pleased with Kallum Watkins who began the game in the second-row before reverting to centre when Hurrell was injured.
“He had a good captain’s knock,” said the coach.
“He did some really hard work. Defensively, when you go from centre to back-row, two spots in, your workload is completely different.
“He handled that really well and I am very happy for Kallum.”
Rhinos have now won three successive home games and Furner felt they took confidence from the 78-6 demolition of Workington Town in the Coral Challenge Cup a week earlier.
“Losing’s a habit and winning’s a habit,” he said.
“The Cup game came at the right time and I was able to rest a couple of players and also debut a couple of players.
“This Easter period, with how close the games are, we might use some of those players that played last week.
“It is just a manner of assessing the squad at the moment. I want this team to keep improving and now we’ve got to focus on the next game.”
Furner also hailed Leeds’ supporters who stayed behind the team during a tense second half.
He noted: “It was a great crowd, the players thrive on that.
“It was a really good atmosphere.”