It was only Rhinos’ second victory in six First Utility Super League rounds and came in what McDermott described as a “crazy” game.
Rhinos led 16-0 after 11 minutes, went 18-16 down just before the break, but kept Saints scoreless in the second half.
“It was end-to-end stuff,” McDermott reflected. “A bit too fast.
“There were some passages I think both coaches will be unhappy with, but also some passages I was really pleased with.
“There some defensive errors and try-savers which were probably created from some initial loose defence, then we ended up saving the try – which kept us in the game.
“There were some moments when we had some poor defence, but even in that set we came up with some outstanding passages of defence to keep them out. What you have got there is two teams who can play and attack. Saints didn’t just walk through some flimsy tackles, they had to break us down. You have to give them some credit, it wasn’t just poor D.”
The coach hailed try scorer Carl Ablett for a huge effort on his return from an ankle injury and was also pleased with hooker Beau Falloon and prop Keith Galloway, who he felt had his best game for the club.
Rhinos’ win was marred by an ankle injury which could keep Ryan Hall out for around six weeks.
Brett Delaney suffered concussion in the second half and Rhinos were without captain Danny McGuire, who had been named in their initial 19-man squad for the first time since damaging a knee against Warrington in round one.
McGuire said: “My knee is feeling fine, but I had a bit of a setback in training on Wednesday.
“I tweaked my calf, but I am hoping to be back for the Castleford game next Thursday.
“It is frustrating, I wish I could have been out there with the lads, but it wasn’t to be.”