Leeds opened up a four-point advantage at the top of the Super 8s with a 25-18 victory over title rivals Wigan but Rhinos coach Brian McDermott was critical of the way his side closed out the game.
The hosts were on course for a comfortable win after Kallum Watkins added to first-half tries from Danny McGuire, Joel Moon and Ryan Hall, only to concede twice late on to give Wigan a sniff of an unlikely victory.
“It was too nervy at the end,” McDermott said. “Without being disrespectful to Wigan, I thought there were moments in that final 20 minutes where we had some naivety about us.
“Wigan don’t have many lulls in the game and they play at their standard throughout. When you start to drop off they’ll start to make some line breaks and score some tries.
“I thought we had to be very good defensively throughout the game to keep containing Wigan and the moment that we didn’t do that defensively they started to poke their noses through.
“Some of our handovers to them were silly; whether that be a kick, trying to run a play or come up with unrealistic passes, which I didn’t think we tried to do in the first 60 minutes, when I thought we were controlled.”
Persistent rain throughout Friday made for greasy conditions at Headingley Carnegie and forced Leeds to resist the urge to throw the ball around as they have to great effect this season.
McDermott insisted the free-flowing Rhinos are equally capable of doing the hard yards to win matches.
“Last year we played with a lot of grunt - it’s not like we had to find a new way of playing,” added McDermott, who confirmed forward Mitch Achurch had suffered concussion.
“I think we made the most metres in the competition last year, or at least second most, so we know how to get forward.
“There’s obviously a different dynamic to how we’re playing this year but it isn’t like we’ve had to go learn a new style. In those wet conditions, that was the order of the day.”
Wigan remain second despite the defeat and coach Shaun Wane could not fault his team’s attitude against the in-form Rhinos.
“I feel proud,” said Wane, whose side kept going and scored late tries through John Bateman and Dom Manfredi.
“The effort was there and a few things went against us - we lost two middles (Taulima Tautai and Dom Crosby) yesterday in the team run, which would disrupt Leeds if they lost (Adam) Cuthbertson and JP (Jamie Peacock).
“I thought our response was great and the effort was superb.”
Wigan had fought back to level early on through the first of two tries from Liam Farrell but went into the break 20-4 down despite an apparent knock-on in the build-up to Hall’s try in the final minute of the half.
Wane said biting his tongue: “It is what it is. There’s no point (in saying anything), there’s no point...there’s no point.
“Leeds are a classy team and throw a lot at you, but I thought our defence was good, and tough at times.”