COACH Brian McDermott denied bringing Kevin Sinfield back for Leeds Rhinos’ Challenge Cup tie against Huddersfield Giants was a masterstroke.
Sinfield, who had missed the previous two games, replaced Liam Sutcliffe at stand-off and produced a man-of-the-match display, kicking eight goals in Leeds’ 48-16 victory.
“There’s no mastermind about it,” said McDermott. “It is just consistent with what we’ve done all year; team selection based on who we feel’s going to get the job done that week.
“In the games Kevin’s missed he’s never been that far away. He has conducted himself impeccably, been a pro’ and it makes it an easier transition for him to come back in. Conversely, Liam Sutcliffe, who hasn’t been been poor by any degree, has just dropped off a bit recently. He had to pay the price based on his performance at Widnes, as has Kevin and Rob Burrow and other members of the squad this year.”
Leeds led 22-0 at the end of the first quarter and McDermott said his team’s strong start laid the platform for a convincing win.
“We were certainly in a dominant position after that period,” he said.
“But I don’t think Huddersfield were ever out of that game until the scoreboard and the time clock said they were, which would have been around 65 minutes.”
Huddersfield coach Paul Anderson had no complaints after his team’s first defeat in five matches.
The visitors had lost just once in their previous nine meetings with Leeds, but Anderson said: “We played a very, very committed team and we made the decision not to go with it. They basically ran harder and had more vigour in everything they did than we did. We couldn’t go with it, unfortunately. The Cup has gone this year and we have got to dust ourselves down.”
Huddersfield’s focus is now on securing a top-four spot in First Utility Super League. They visit another team reeling from a heavy Challenge Cup defeat, Castleford Tigers, this week and Anderson added: “We are fortunate in that we play on Thursday.
“We haven’t got time to lick our wounds, we have to make sure we crack on.”