Leeds Rhinos 20 Huddersfield Giants 16: Brian McDermott not satisfied with first Rhinos win

HOW'S THAT FOR STARTERS? Joel Moon scores the opening try for Leeds Rhinos against Huddersfield Giants. .  Picture: Bruce Rollinson
HOW'S THAT FOR STARTERS? Joel Moon scores the opening try for Leeds Rhinos against Huddersfield Giants. . Picture: Bruce Rollinson
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Brian McDermott could not hide his disappointment despite watching his Leeds Rhinos side struggle to their first win of the season against Huddersfield.

The injury-hit teams went into the match at Headingley Carnegie in Super League’s bottom two after starting the new campaign with three straight defeats and there was little in the way of quality in a scrappy contest.

Leeds Rhinos celebrate Liam Sutcliffe's try against Huddersfield Giants at Headingley  Picture: Bruce Rollinson

Leeds Rhinos celebrate Liam Sutcliffe's try against Huddersfield Giants at Headingley Picture: Bruce Rollinson

The Giants appeared to be heading for their first win of 2016 after Michael Lawrence crossed 13 minutes from time to make it 16-12 but Leeds dug deep and scored the decisive try through Jimmy Keinhorst.

Jordan Lilley knocked over a penalty to give the defending champions a 20-16 lead which they would not give up and round off a perfect performance from the kicking tee.

But McDermott was not satisfied with the way the young half-back pairing of Lilley and Liam Sutcliffe, who are filling the boots of the retired Kevin Sinfield and injured Danny McGuire, guided Leeds around the park.

“That was disappointing - the performance wasn’t good,” said the Rhinos head coach.

“I didn’t think the half-backs did anything special although ultimately Jordan Lilley’s kicking and Liam Sutcliffe’s try probably got us the game.

“But it shouldn’t have been that hard. It was two committed teams who were almost trying too hard at times.

“I think it’s too early in the season for me to be saying, ‘A win’s a win’. I don’t think it’s about that. We need to string some passages of play together that we’re working on but it isn’t happening on game day.

“I don’t think we’re lacking confidence or are overanxious, I just think we’re desperate. I thought we worked our rocks off defensively but were disjointed in attack.”

Leeds have had to do it tough in the early weeks of the season after three high-profile retirements and with a number of key players on the sidelines nursing injuries.

And that situation is set to get worse after first-half try-scorer Moon and stand-in winger Ash Handley both hobbled off.

“Moon going off at half-time hurt us,” McDermott added.

“It looks like he’s got a hamstring pull but I’m not sure how bad it is.

“Ash Handley got a kneecap bang which is sore at the moment. I’m crossing fingers he’s walking around until Wednesday and can play Friday (at Wigan).”

Huddersfield’s injury problems eased after Danny Brough returned from a dead leg but they remain without a host of bodies and ended Friday night at the bottom of Super League.

“I think we gifted it away,” said Giants head coach Paul Anderson, whose side were 12-6 up at the break courtesy of tries from Brough and Jermaine McGillvary.

“We talked at half-time about completing some sets - you complete to compete.

“But we gave a sheer weight of possession away to Leeds who have got some good players.

“We were on the wrong end of an 8-1 penalty count in the second half which was embarrassing, not from our point of view but from the officials’.

“They want the ruck quick then they want it slow - they just need to make their minds up. It’s pathetic at the moment.

“We have to be disappointed but the reality of it is we’ll be fine. That wasn’t a bottom-of-the-league performance.”