Rhinos failed to come up with the goods in the Australian’s first game in charge, suffering their second loss in as many visits to AJ Bell Stadium this year.
A 26-12 setback in March ended Richard Agar’s reign as coach and Smith’s began with defeat by a one-point greater margin on the same ground.
Smith had 10 days to prepare his team for the game and said, despite the result, it was good to see them live in a match situation, rather than on tape or in training.
“It is a difficult perspective, seeing how people communicate with each other and their body language, I think, is a really important thing for coaches to observe,” he said afterwards.
“It was good to get an insight there; seeing how individuals handle those moments was helpful, moving forward.”
Though he appeared calm throughout the game, Smith admitted to being “a little frustrated at times” with his side’s performance.
Rhinos conceded four tries and Smith noted: “There was a little lack of trust on a few occasions, where we turned in and didn’t need to.
“That obviously created opportunities for the opposition.
“There was one try where there were a few deflections.
“They happen sometimes, but we have been working on a few defensive things that are a little different to previously and they will continue to be worked on,” he added.
“There was no thought that we were going to play a perfect game, by any means.”
Of what positives he could take from the game, Smith said: “I thought we defended well in the second half, overall.
“It was a hard-fought second half in particular.
“Also, the return of a bunch of players; we had five or six who hadn’t played for anywhere between a month and 10-12 weeks.
“Credit to the performance staff that those guys played big minutes and got through unscathed.”
The defeat moved Leeds down below Salford into 10th place on the Betfred Super League table.