McDermott praises Rhinos defence

Published: Friday 3rd April 2015 by The News Editor

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Leeds head coach Brian McDermott felt stopping a dangerous Castleford outfit from playing was the key to the Rhinos’ 26-12 victory at a sold-out Mend-A-Hose Jungle.

The Rhinos came into the gruelling Easter period top of Super League after back-to-back wins over Wigan and Catalans, and they laid down another title marker against neighbours Castleford on Good Friday.

The six-time champions saw Ryan Hall sin-binned for the first time in his career early on but they dug in to deny the Tigers before the England winger scored on his return to add to Joel Moon’s try minutes earlier.

Stevie Ward’s converted effort cancelled out Michael Shenton’s try and gave Leeds a 16-6 half-time lead, which they extended through Hall’s second after a thrilling start to the second period.

Adam Cuthberton is enjoying an excellent first season in England and he sealed the points for Leeds, meaning Shenton would have little reason to celebrate completing his double late on.

“That was a great performance,” McDermott said. “It was a tough old game and a contest throughout; I don’t think we were ever comfortable that we’d win.

“We didn’t see the best of Castleford, Justin Carney or a few of their players. But we did a good job defensively, and needed to because they can play.

“We saw a lesser version of Castleford offensively today and you have to credit our defence for that.”

Captain Kevin Sinfield, who is switching codes at the end of the season, again missed out for the Rhinos with a hamstring injury and watched on as his side made it three wins out of three in his absence.

Stand-in half-back Liam Sutcliffe, 20, and 19-year-old winger Ash Handley were particularly impressive as Leeds showed they are in good shape to cope with Sinfield’s retirement from rugby league.

“Kevin has not played with us before and we’ve been all right,” McDermott added.

“There’s lots and lots you need to say about Kevin and rightly so, but we’re cracking on.

“Between Sutcliffe and Danny McGuire it was their best 80-minute performance. McGuire has been good since the start of the year and Sutty kept it nice and tight.”

Leeds will be confident of making it a perfect Easter against injury-ravaged bottom side Wakefield on Monday, but Castleford’s task is altogether more difficult against a Warrington outfit desperate to get their season back on track.

Tigers head coach Daryl Powell has demanded more consistency from his team after they suffered their fifth defeat in eight matches in 2015.

“I don’t think we ever got our game together today,” he said.

“Leeds were the better side consistently and we’re just not consistent enough, whether it’s from ruck to ruck, or game to game.

“We’ve got some work to do to improve. We need to toughen up in the middle, have better creativity and be more consistent.

“I think we’re good enough to be at the top end of the table, if we can piece it together on a more consistent basis.”

Published: Friday 3rd April 2015 by The News Editor

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