LEEDS Rhinos head coach Brian McDermott was full of praise for Wakefield Trinity Wildcats following Saturday night’s play-off clash at Headingley Carnegie.
Rhinos ran out 42-20 winners in the elimination play-off to bring Wakefield’s campaign to a close but McDermott was well aware his side had been in a real battle against Super League’s form team.
Wakefield had led 16-12 early in the second half before the champions upped their gear to eventually ease to victory.
Former Eastmoor Dragons man McDermott admitted the scoreline flattered his side and heaped praise on the Wildcats.
“It was a tough one on a few different levels,” he said.
“I’ll start off by saying we’ve all been giving Wakefield credit and rightly so, they brought their full package, they didn’t die wondering and credit needs to go to Richard Agar and his staff and his players who’ve been sensational in the last few weeks, and give that a massive, massive effort.
“They pushed us, challenged us, and we had to find out a little bit about ourselves during that first half. The scoreline is probably a bit flattering towards us but it was pleasing to stay strong throughout that game.
“Tim Smith’s playing with a fair amount of form, him and Paul Sykes. Richie Mathers, Andy Ellis, Kyle Wood, that little pivotal people that they’ve got, they’re playing really well for them. They prized us open a couple of times.”
McDermott named Rob Burrow, scorer of two Rhinos tries, as his man-of-the-match, and also praised the performance of the “world class” Kallum Watkins.
He said: “He was just sensational Rob. The role that he does there, he’s such a threat that it allows Kallum Watkins, who just looks every bit a world class player there tonight.
“We didn’t have too much momentum in that first half. Never mind the scoreline I thought Wakefield were pretty dominant for some long periods in that first half yet Kallum unlocked it with a long range break.
“There was a period in that first half where we couldn’t score. I don’t know how many off-loads we got, there was no structure involved, it was just throw the ball about as much as you can and Wakefield kept us out. Sometimes that can hurt you, if you don’t get over and don’t score you deflate. It’s almost like you give the opposition your best shot and you haven’t come up with the goods. We kept some composure which is expected in play-offs.”
Rhinos will now travel to France to take on Catalans Dragons in the next round.
See this week’s Wakefield Express for all the latest Wakefield Wildcats news.