Brian McDermott sees reasons to be positive after Featherstone Rovers' defeat to Leigh Centurions
Rovers went into the final, at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, as the Cup holders, but were second-best to their only serious rivals in the race for promotion to next season’s Super League.
Featherstone led twice in the first half and the scores were level at the break, but Leigh pulled clear after that, giving McDermott a clear indication of how much work needs to be done over the second half of the Championship season.
“We put a lot of effort into that, the players certainly did and desperately wanted to win,” said McDermott following his side’s 30-16 defeat.
“There’s some upset people in there [Rovers’ camp], but the reaction could be valuable.
“If there is a reaction, not just in what we do physically but how we knock our next plan together, a loss like that can be really helpful.”
The Featherstone coach, who led Leeds Rhinos to four Super League titles and masterminded Toronto Wolfpack’s promotion in 2019, had no complaints over the result.
He accepted some of his players “didn’t nail their own performance” and admitted: “It stopped becoming a contest for the final 15. Up to that point I thought we were well in the contest.
“I never felt we had a grip of it, or too much momentum inside that contest. They’ve got some strengths and some big boys that we handled for a fair while, but not for the final 15 minutes.
“It is disappointing, but we are going to play them another few times this year and it gives us real clarity about where we need to be better.”
The teams meet again in the league in two weeks’ time and McDermott added: “I don’t think Leigh will drop their guard the next time we play them and it can’t really make us any more determined, but in terms of what we do differently next, there will be some value in that.”
Rovers full-back Mark Kheirallah suffered knee injury late in the game and McDermott said: “He has got a bit of a bruised leg, let’s hope that’s all it is.”