A DISASTROUS afternoon at Widnes left Leeds Rhinos bruised, battered and bewildered in their final game before the World Club Challenge.
The Super League champions and treble winners suffered their heaviest defeat since 2012 when they were crushed 56-12 at Widnes Vikings.
And adding injury to insult, they lost winger Tom Briscoe, second-row Carl Ablett and substitute Ashton Golding, all with ankle damage, in the first half.
Leeds were already without captain Danny McGuire, who suffered a long-term knee injury in the loss to Warrington Wolves.
The visitors were 16-0 down before Briscoe, their first casualty, went off and the injuries contributed to the margin, rather than causing the defeat.
Widnes, who won each half 28-6, were too strong in defence, played at a higher tempo than Leeds and were clinical with the ball.
Leeds made a series of errors, particularly in the first quarter and lacked direction in attack. They managed just two tries, Kallum Watkins crossing on the final play of the first half and Rob Burrow going over late in the second. Jordan Lilley converted both.
Corey Thompson registered a hat-trick for Widnes, Stefan Marsh crossed twice and other try scorers were Setaimata Sa, Lloyd White, Charly Runciman, Joe Mellor and Connor Farrell. Rhys Hanbury landed eight conversions.
Leeds coach Brian McDermott largely kept his thoughts to himself during a terse post-match press conference.
He refused to blame the looming meeting with North Queensland Cowboys for his team’s second successive defeat, but admitted they were “not great”.
He said: “I am disappointed with how we played and the injuries. I am not sure of the extent of them yet, but they will all be in doubt for next week.”
Leeds captain Rob Burrow said they were “wrong in all areas” and he added: “There’s no excuses, we were just terrible.
“Credit to Widnes, they were outstanding. Rugby league is a rollercoaster, you can be at the top and you can certainly be at the bottom. How you deal with these lows and how you react to it is what defines the team.”
Widnes Vikings: Hanbury, Thompson, Bridge, Runciman, Marsh, Mellor, Brown, O’Carroll, White, Dudson, Sa, Farrell, Houston. Substitutes: Dean, Manuokafoa, Cahill, Heremaia.
Leeds Rhinos: Hardaker, Briscoe, Watkins, Moon, Hall, Lilley, Sutcliffe, Galloway, Burrow, Cuthbertson, Ablett, Ferres, Delaney. Substitutes: Singleton, Garbutt, Keinhorst, Golding.
Referee: G Stokes (Wigan).