‘We weren’t that far away’: Rohan Smith defiant after latest Leeds Rhinos loss

LEEDS RHINOS flew home from Perpignan yesterday (Sunday) confident that they are heading in the right direction.

Coach Rohan Smith was proud of his under-strength side’s battling performance in a 26-0 defeat to Catalans Dragons and he believes results will better reflect the Rhinos’ performances once senior players return from injury.

Missing star players Brodie Croft and Harry Newman, plus a string of fellow first-teamers, Leeds stayed in the contest until Catalans scored two late tries and Smith feels better times are ahead.

He said after Saturday’s match, “There’s a real mixed feeling in the dressing room, of disappointment that we didn’t execute well enough but pride in the overall intent that we showed.

“Sport’s harsh sometimes with scorelines that don’t always reflect the battle, but you’ve got to front up and cop it on the chin and come back stronger.

“Over the last month I’d say we were progressing in the way we have attacked games with intent, much better than in some games previously. We’ve got more purpose going forward and we’re in better positions on the field, despite some errors that we showed today.

“We’ve lacked some cohesion and chemistry in each of those games, but we’ve lost a couple of backs in each game too, which can make things disjointed and halt any continuity from week to week.

“But the spirit and belief in the group is progressing nicely over this last little period; we just need to execute better and stay in it for longer.

“There’s been a bunch of games in Super League lately where the scoreline hasn’t reflected the battle that it was and while I thought the better team won today, for sure we weren’t that far away.”

Smith reported no serious injury concerns from Saturday’s defeat, despite taking off fullback Lachlan Miller towards the end of the game.

He said, “There wasn’t any issue, I just wanted to give Corey Johnson a couple of minutes at the back end of the game, he’s had a tough time of it of late with an extended break through concussion and a few other bits and pieces.

“I’m really proud of the way he’s stuck at it and he was on the bench today as cover in the backs in case something went wrong, given the amount of personnel we have missing at the moment.

“I was happy to give him some game time to say well done for applying himself over the last little period.

“We recalled him from his loan spell (at Bradford Bulls) to fill that role for us today and he won’t be going back to Bradford.”

Smith paid tribute to around 1,000 Leeds supporters who made their presence felt at Stade Gilbert Brutus, adding, “The fan base is phenomenal and the way they travel and support us is incredible, we saw a lot of people on our travels here and around town in Perpignan and we really appreciate their commitment to the club.

“The way they addressed the players at the end of the game was fantastic; they are a passionate supporter base and they expect the boys to rip in and have a proper dig and they showed they were proud of us today.”

First published in League Express newspaper, Issue 3,430 (May 13, 2024)

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