FRUSTRATED Jamie Jones-Buchanan was in disbelief at how many times the champions were penalised late on in their controversial 18-18 draw with Bradford Bulls.
The England second-row was at the centre of some of the biggest talking points in Thursday night’s dramatic game.
He was on the end of an alleged spear tackle from rival back-row Elliott Whitehead which sparked a huge melee at Headingley but, strangely, was not even put on report for closer inspection by referee Phil Bentham.
Leeds winger Ryan Hall had an early effort ruled out after the chasing Jones-Buchanan was deemed offside.
He did not interfere with play but video referee Ian Smith rightly applied the letter of the law.
Also, it was the workaholic forward who, unfortunately, missed a vital tackle to allow Adam Sidlow the equalising try just two minutes from time after Jamie Peacock had been sin-binned.
Given he was at his usual industrious best, getting through a mountain of work for Leeds, it proved an eventful evening but the 31 year-old could not hide his exasperation at the end of it all.
He had bounced straight back up after Whitehead’s tackle and said: “I was just happy to play on. “I’m not bothered. If they stick me on my head and if they’re going to get away with stuff like that...
“I just wanted to get on, to be honest, but he pulled it back and it made it a bit tit-for-tat.
“We had an opportunity to win the game. I think Kev (Sinfield) dropped a goal but they found something to pull us up on again.
“It was just tough. Every set of six they could find something on us.
“We didn’t lose but we feel like we lost. We just have to get on with it now.”
In the cold light of day, many of Bentham’s decisions will probably stand up to detailed analysis.
However, it did not help Jones-Buchanan who added: “We are disappointed.
“A bit too much in the last 15 minutes went against us. We didn’t quite hold them out and, obviously, I’m disappointed to be the one who missed that tackle.
“We toughed it out, there was a big effort and we tried our best but probably weren’t smart enough in certain areas.
“We got pinged for every little certain thing that could have gone wrong.
“We started really well but, again, we had a try disallowed. I’ll have to look at it again but I presume it’s because I was within 10 metres even though I was no where near the ball. But those are the rules and you can go over it with a fine toothcomb and pick stuff out.
“We’re happy to do that anyway.
“It’s still a long season and there’s a long way to go yet.”
Leeds, who head to in-form Catalan Dragons on Easter Monday, remain in mid-table but have two games in hand over all their rivals.
“It makes it tougher for us in mid-season,” admitted Jones-Buchanan,
“It means we have to do more work than everyone else and be a stronger side.
“We’re happy to do that and take the challenge on.
“It’ll be tough at Catalan but we’ve 20-odd lads bouncing in there ready to get on that plane and go get a job done.
“I think we need to now. We need to finish this Easter period off well and we can only do that by turning it around in Perpignan on Monday.
“I know it’ll be really tough. They went top after beating London on Thursday, are a good side; big, thick-set and play very hard through the middle a lot like Bradford do. So we have to smarten a few things up I’m sure.”
Meanwhile, Leeds coach Brian McDermott defended former England captain Peacock after his costly yellow-card.
The Rhinos were clinging to an 18-12 lead when the 35-year-old ex-Bulls captain was sin-binned.
Apparently, he had already been warned for persistent offside but then sarcastically clapped Bentham after the latest of numerous penalties were awarded against the hosts.
Sidlow scored in the next set to level the contest and Peacock – whose earlier try looked like winning it for the home side – had to be consoled by McDermott after the hooter.
But he said: “I won’t be having any words with JP telling him to wind his neck in.
“He cares immensely. I don’t know what he said to the referee but, in a game as heated as that, I would hope the referee hasn’t been precious.
“If he’s been out of order and very offensive, then it’s probably the right decision but, knowing JP, I don’t think he would have been overly offensive.”