INTERIM Leeds Rhinos head coach Richard Agar insisted there is no “quick fix” to the club’s problems despite delivering a crucial win in their relegation fight.
In a typically fraught affair, they made work hard for themselves before finally defeating Super League’s bottom club London Broncos 24-22 at Magic Weekend in Liverpool yesterday.
Crucially, it saw them move two points clear of their opponents at the foot of the table but Agar accepts more improvement is required if they are to salvage a wretched campaign. It was Leeds’s first success at Magic since 2012 but, as has so often been the case this term, they imploded, conceding two late tries, hanging on after leading 24-10.
“I am happy we dug the win out, but it was still very reminiscent of a number of our performances this year,” said Agar, who got his first success in three games since taking over from the sacked Dave Furner.
“We are where we are for a reason. There were parts of the game when we took some really positive steps forward.
“Our tryline D (defence) was good in the first half; there was just one blip and some of the decent stuff we played, when we looked quite threatening through the middle of the field, I thought was really good. But the difference between our good and our bad is just so big and our ability to capitulate late in halves is obviously a major concern for us.
We are where we are for a reason. There were parts of the game when we took some really positive steps forward.Leeds Rhinos’ Richard Agar
“I know it was billed as a relegation battle – us or them – but there’s plenty of games to go. We’re not thinking ‘yee-ha, we’ve got the two points, we’re all right now.’
“Our performance shows there’s no quick fix for us; we’ve still got to keep working hard.”
Leeds, who remain 10th, are not in action now until facing Wakefield Trinity on Friday, June 7 but yesterday’s win came at a cost with prop Nathaniel Peteru suffering a fractured eye socket.
Before Rhinos took to the field, 11th-placed Hull KR also moved two points clear of London with a similarly tense 22-20 victory over Salford Red Devils at Anfield.
Rovers had been 20-6 up before former Robins winger Ken Sio scored a brace to level.
It needed Ryan Shaw’s 74th-minute penalty to gain the East Yorkshire club a much-needed first league win in five outings.
Head coach Tim Sheens, whose side host Warrington Wolves in a Challenge Cup quarter-final on Friday, admitted his “relief” at the end. He added: “We came out in the second half and they were throwing it around, quick passes.
“Fortunately, they missed a couple of goals and we kicked the ones that counted.
“We showed a lot of guts and had a dig. It was not an easy game with a bit of controversy here and there but I felt we were the better side for the majority.”
Castleford Tigers rounded off Anfield’s first Magic last night but had no answer to leaders St Helens who powered to a 36-16 win.
Saints were 20-0 up after just 22 minutes and never in danger.
It was Castleford’s first defeat at Magic since 2012 but coach Daryl Powell admitted: “We are not resilient enough at the moment; we are not at that level where we are beating Saints.
“They are playing right on top of their game and we’re not. We’ve got to find a way to piece it together a little bit.
“Obviously getting some of our better players back would help us but we had a really positive week and were looking forward to it.
“We started and finished in a really bright fashion but in between was a mixed bag. There were some bright periods but nowhere near enough to beat Saints at their best.”
Huddersfield Giants produced the performance of the weekend, however, with a brilliant 55-2 rout of Hull FC on Saturday.
Coach Simon Woolford described it as “far and away our most complete performance of the season” while Hull counterpart Lee Radford used the words “Rocky Horror Show” for his woeful side’s appraisal. Wakefield were unfortunate to go down 25-18 against Catalans Dragons while Blake Austin scored yet another wonder try as Warrington Wolves defeated Wigan Warriors 26-14.
There had been concerns Super League could struggle to break an aggregate attendance of 50,000 after moving from Newcastle’s popular St James’ Park.
However, officials reported a combined total of 56,869 – 30,057 on Saturday and 26,812 yesterday – which was still down on Newcastle last year but far from the lowest of the event’s 13-year history. Furthermore, the introduction of Learning Disability Super League games between the main contests proved arguably the biggest hit of all.
Magic Weekend: Pages 4-5