Leeds Rhinos coach Brian McDermott insisted that his side weren’t as bad as the scoreline suggested during the first-half of their hammering at the hands of Super League leaders Castleford Tigers on Thursday night.
The Rhinos trailed 30-0 at the break and, with no way back for a Leeds side robbed of over half a dozen first-teamers, they shipped a further 36 points in the second half to lose 66-10: their heaviest defeat in Super League history, eclipsing the 68-14 defeat to Wigan in 1996.
Yet McDermott said afterwards that it was more a case of Castleford being electrifying as opposed to his side being “miles off”.
“There is no simple answer,” he said. “As crazy as it might sound, I didn’t think we were that bad in the first half. We were not miles off, I just think Castleford were white hot. You can pick fault in some of their tries but they were brilliant.
“In the second half we clearly played without momentum and belief and we got rattled and made far too many defensive errors. The lack of possession began to take its toll.”
McDermott admitted Leeds’ injury problems – they lost Rob Burrow on the afternoon of the game due to illness – did not help the situation: but said he would have expected his Academy side to have avoided a defeat of that magnitude.
“It had a bearing for sure. But you’d like to put our Under-19s out there and not get beaten by that scoreline. Everybody’s pride is hurting. You have got to ask some serious questions but that’s one of the best offensive performances I’ve seen.
“They zinged the ball across the field and Luke Gale tore us apart. I’ve been a player and coach in every year of Super League and I can’t remember a more clinical performance.”
Powell also delivered an emphatic assessment of Castleford’s title credentials, saying: “I can’t see anybody touching them if they play like that.”