Leeds Rhinos 32 Salford Red Devils 4: McDermott challenges Rhinos to hold on to top spot

Leeds's Tom Briscore runs past a packed South Stand to score a late try. Picture: Steve Riding.
Leeds's Tom Briscore runs past a packed South Stand to score a late try. Picture: Steve Riding.
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Leeds Rhinos head coach Brian McDermott feels there is room for improvement despite watching his team go top of the Super League with victory over Salford.

The Rhinos had to do plenty of defending in the first period at Headingley Carnegie but went into half-time with a narrow lead and blew the visitors away in the second 40 minutes.

The Rhinos scored the first try of the afternoon early on through Kevin Sinfield and, even though their line was broken on a number of occasions, they limited Salford to a Logan Tomkins try.

After toughing it out in the opening 40 minutes, Leeds clicked in attack and scored brilliant long-range tries through Zak Hardaker and Ben Jones-Bishop either side of a Rob Burrow score.

Ryan Hall took his try tally for the season into double figures and Tom Briscoe touched down in the corner late on to add gloss to the result.

Three of Leeds’ five second-half tries came directly from Salford kicks as McDermott’s backs showed why they are so feared. It was a clinical performance built on strong goal-line defence, but Leeds were far from their best and their line was broken too often for their coach’s liking.

“They punched a few holes in us throughout the game,” said McDermott.

“We’re good at saving tries at the moment. We need to be asked less questions in the try-saving department and be better at shutting them out.

“I thought Salford were very dogged. They came with a game plan and pretty much exposed us quite a lot throughout that game, credit to them.

“It was anybody’s game up until maybe 60 or 70 minutes in, and probably the difference was our outside backs.”

A second defeat of the Easter period for St Helens allowed the Rhinos to move to the summit and McDermott has challenged his players to stay there.

“Our challenge now is to keep hold of it, which we know is going to be incredibly hard.”

Leeds Rhinos: Jones-Bishop, Briscoe, Hardaker, Moon, Hall, Sinfield, McGuire, Leuluai, Burrow, Peacock, Ablett, Achurch, Delaney. Substitutes: Bailey, Sutcliffe, Singleton, Clarkson.

Salford Red Devils: Mullaney, Williams, Platt, Sa’u, Meli, Chase, Fages, Griffin, Tomkins, Tasi, Ashurst, Hock, Lee. Substitutes: A Walne, J Walne, Howarth, Rapira.

Referee: B Thaler (RFL).