LEEDS RHINOS need to stop shooting themselves in the foot, overseas recruit Rhyse Martin reckons.
With three rounds of Betfred Super League remaining, Rhinos are eighth in the table, but only two points clear of bottom club London Broncos.
Their superior for and against means Rhinos will be safe if they win at London in 13 days’ time, but Martin says they will need to be better in that game than they were in the 36-20 loss to St Helens last week.
Against the runaway league leaders, Rhinos were 10-6 ahead in the first half and went in at the break all square, but a third-quarter collapse cost them any chance of a precious win.
Rhinos scored four tries and looked threatening when they completed their sets, but gave Saints too many opportunities.
“We were our own worst enemy,” Martin admitted.
“We made too many errors in our own half and they put us under pressure.
“We had a lot of back-to-back defensive sets, we just weren’t good enough and they capitalised on their opportunities.”
Rhinos went into the Saints game on the back of successive big wins over Huddersfield Giants and Catalans Dragons.
Since Richard Agar was appointed interim-coach in May, they have managed three sets of back-to-back wins, but lost the next game each time.
Martin said: “We put ourselves in a good position to compete and win games, but when we lack some intent in our defence we get on the back foot and we can’t get it back.
“That has been the worst part of our game.
“We just need to stay together and be confident when we get under pressure and put teams under pressure and make them make the errors.”
Going into the break last Thursday with the scores locked at 10-10, Rhinos looked capable of taking control. Assessing what went wrong in the second half – and what needs fixing up for the game at London on Sunday, September 1 – Martin said: “We made an error and then we had to defend six sets in a row.
“Then we got the ball back and threw it over the sideline and had to defend another six sets.
“That just gassed us and they scored a few tries, easy tries. That hasn’t been us for a while.”
Saints’ win lifted them 16 points clear at the top of the table, but Martin feels Rhinos can take confidence from the way they matched them for spells, especially in the first 40.
“The team we have got, we can beat them,” he insisted.
“The way we have played the last two weeks, our off-loads and second-phase play really worked for us, but sometimes it doesn’t happen and you have to roll your sleeves up and do the tough stuff.
“We don’t want to stop playing that way, but we need to complete one or two sets and get into the rhythm of the game and pick our times to off-load and take our opportunities.”
London’s 17-4 win at Catalans Dragons two days ago put pressure on all their relegation rivals. They remain bottom, but are level on points with Hull Kingston Rovers and Huddersfield Giants and only one win behind Wakefield Trinity and Leeds.
Rhinos’ vastly superior points difference, however, means they will be out of London’s reach if they can win next week.
It will be the sides’ third meeting this year, with both teams having one once so far.
London will be full of confidence after their victory in France, but Martin stresseed Leeds will be ready for whatever is thrown at them.
“It is a must-win for us.” Martin said. “We are going to get away from footy for a little bit, freshen up, then we’ll get back into training and look forward to the next game. We want to finish the year strong, that’s our main goal. [Last week] we had an opportunity to show what we are capable of in this comp’ and we let it slide.”