Richard Agar praised the defensive efforts of his Wakefield Trinity Wildcats side but bemoaned some “poor errors” after Leeds Rhinos edged their way to a 20-18 derby victory at Headingley Carnegie on Friday night.
Rhinos had plenty of possession on the night but found Wildcats’ defence in impressive form throughout in a close-fought Super League contest.
Agar described Wakefield’s defence as “outstanding” but pointed towards unforced errors as giving his men too much to do to secure a first win at Headingley since 2007.
“I don’t think we had the ball to win the game and enough good possession on Leeds’ line,” he said.
“A couple of sets spring to mind where I didn’t think we did enough with it and I thought errors ultimately got us. Errors at the start of the second half and the end of the second half. I thought we had the momentum in the last 20 minutes of the game, I thought we were going to come home strong, but we coughed the ball up in some poor ways.
“It was a difficult night because the pitch was cut very flat and it was quite a hard surface and with the heating conditions the ball can be difficult, very sweaty, and both sides were in the 60 per cent region, which is quite low. We did expect a little bit of that but there were times when we just didn’t do enough with it and times when some of our errors were poor errors, not under contact and not in heavy collisions, just poor decisions.
He added: [I was] pleased with our effort, our defensive effort I thought was outstanding but we just asked a little bit too much of ourselves defensively.
“We got caught on a couple of kick plays I thought we could have diffused which ultimately proved a little bit of a difference, but we had a lot of defending to do but I thought our effort and our attitude in that area was superb given the amount of defending that we had to do.
“But I still thought we had some chances. And I will say that I thought we were under the weight of possession sometimes when we didn’t deserved to be.”
Wildcats were already without Dean Collis (hamstring) and Paul Sykes (leg) through injury and are awaiting news on injuries that forced skipper Danny Kirmond and Andy Raleigh off early at Headingley.
Agar fears Wildcats could have lost prop Raleigh for the rest of the season through a suspected fractured cheekbone while Kirmond suffered a knee injury and will be assessed.
The match was the first of two in a week between the West Yorkshire rivals, with Leeds making the return trip to the Rapid Solicitors Stadium next Friday (kick-off 8pm).
On next week’s match, Agar said: “It gives us hope. I don’t think hope or desire or confidence is something we’re struggling with at the moment.
“I don’t think our performance with the ball was great tonight but our desire is there for all to see and if we can’t pull any motivation or want to turn that around next week then there’s something wrong with us, we look forward to it.”