WHEN they won the Grand Final to complete an historic treble last October, the question being asked was ‘where now for Leeds Rhinos’?
The answer is increasingly looking like Bradford and Leigh. With only 13 games left before Super League splits, Leeds remain second from bottom in the table and they are on a run of four successive defeats against the teams immediately above them on the ladder.
They had enough pressure to beat Salford at AJ Bell Stadium, but a poor attacking performance and two defensive lapses allowed the hosts to build a 14-0 lead, through tries from Logan Tomkins and Robert Lui, two Michael Dobson goals and a Gareth O’Brien kick.
Leeds finally clicked into gear in the final six minutes when Keith Galloway and Ashton Golding crossed and Zak Hardaker added a conversion, but it was too little, too late.
Afterwards coach Brian McDermott said he believes Rhinos still have a chance of making the top-eight and insisted he does not feel under pressure.
“I thought Salford watched us really well defensively,” McDermott said. “I thought they were very good defensively. In terms of where we’ve been as a team I thought that was the most we’ve played for each other this year.
“You could see a team trying to defend for each other, showing up for each other in attack. There were a couple of sloppy moments for us near their tryline in the first half, which makes it really difficult for yourself.
“I thought we had a crack throughout the game, but Salford were very good defensively.”
“Its unbelievably frustrating for the injured players on the sidelines watching this unfold. We are going through some experiences together as a group that is not easy.”
Salford Red Devils: O’Brien, Carney, Sa’u, J Griffin, Evalds, Lui, Dobson, Kopczak, Tomkins, G Griffin, Murdoch-Masila, Jones, Flanagan. Substitutes: Wood, A Walne, Krasniqi, J Walne.
Leeds Rhinos: Hardaker, Golding, Watkins, Sutcliffe, Handley, McGuire, Burrow, Singleton, Falloon, Garbutt, Achurch, Ablett, Jones-Buchanan. Substitutes: Galloway, Mullally, Baldwinson, Lilley.
Referee: P Bentham (Warrington).