Self-belief can propel Leeds to final

LEEDS RHINOS forward James Donaldson looked ahead to a play-off semi-final trip to defending champions St Helens on Friday and insisted: “If we keep working hard, the rewards will come.”

The Rhinos were beaten 40-6 at Saints earlier this month, while a 26-18 defeat at the Totally Wicked Stadium back in April ended their Challenge Cup defence.
But former Bradford and Hull KR player Donaldson believes Leeds’ 8-0 win at Wigan in their play-off eliminator should provide plenty of self-confidence for a side that finished fifth in the table and is now targeting a first Grand Final since 2017, when Castleford were beaten 24-6 at Old Trafford.
While Leeds suffered eleven league defeats, Donaldson insisted: “We’ve had belief in the team all season.
“No matter where we go, we believe we can get a win. It has put us in good stead.
“Wigan are obviously one of the best teams in Super League and to go there after so long without winning there and to beat them twice (Leeds were 14-0 winners in their league game at the DW Stadium in August) is massive.
“We will take confidence from that and try and build on it for the next game. We’ll be working hard during the week to build a good performance again.
“It has been a rollercoaster year with injuries, bans and Covid, but we’ve always believed within the team that we are good and we’ve got enough in the changing room to carry us all the way.
“That belief is still there. We’ll keep working hard for each other and the rewards will come.”

Leeds had top forwards Mikolaj Oledzki and Zane Tetevano back after a toe injury and a suspension respectively.
“It was a brutal game,” said coach Richard Agar.

“The conditions played their part a bit as it was a really greasy pitch, and we played a really good defensive side, but I thought we defended well ourselves.
“We were comfortable with what they were throwing at us but the key for us was to wear their middles out a bit more.
“It’s play-off football, it takes on a different life of its own. We probably didn’t exert enough pressure, but we had a bit better momentum in the second half, spent time down their end, and got the chances we needed.”