McDermott hails Rhinos back row unit

Leeds coach Brian McDermott believes that his back row unit were the key men when it came to winning the Challenge Cup final at Wembley on Saturday.

The Rhinos won the game 50-0, but McDermott felt that the scoreline was only achieved thanks to the hard work of more defensively minded players.

“The three blokes who started in the back-row were Carl Ablett, Stevie Ward and Brett Delaney,” he said.

“The work you have got to chew through to make somebody look less potent than Hull KR clearly are was down to those three blokes, when they were trying to come away from their tryline.

“Every time they tried something, invariably those three blokes – as well as everybody else – were in the mix making some really tough tackles.

“If you were to pin me down to single out one thing, defence got us that game for sure.

“When the platform’s laid, we can score some points. Hull KR became tired and I don’t think they were 50 points [worse].

“In terms of the overall performance, I’m probably critical of our team in the first half.

“I thought we played a bit too conservative, but defensively we absolutely nailed everything Hull KR tried to do.

McDermott also made no bones about the fact that his team were hungry for more silverware this season.

“We are not done yet either, there are another couple of trophies that we would like to get our hands on,” he added.

“The League Leaders and the Grand Final are not going to be easy but that is something that we would like to do.”

That hunger for glory also helped to keep his team fully focused on the task at hand in the week leading up to the game. Any complacency was stamped on right away, right from the first meeting last Monday.

“We pretty much fired one across everybody’s bow,” he said.

“If anybody thought they could relax and have a cup of tea, and thought, ‘It’s only Hull KR, we’ll get the job done’ we probably would have lost.

“That’s where I’ve got to pay credit to the players. They had healthy respect for Hull KR.

“Tto be given that favourites tag – it was so one-sided in the build up – and yet to still go out and do that says a lot about the players’ mentality.

“I’ve been in enough losses in this competition to never think ‘oh, we’ll be alright.'”

The Leeds coach felt that his team responded to the pressure of being favourites, and that Hull Kr performed much better than the score suggested.

“It was a funny game today, Hull KR have clearly got some threats and they didn’t give up,” he added.

“They have done a fantastic job to get here. Their story is what the Challenge Cup is all about.

“We faced a different challenge from Hull KR. They were the underdogs and I thought we were outstanding in terms of handling the pressure of being favourites.

“We handled that really, really well.

“They are a better team than that and in the first half it was a contest. We tried to score more points in the first half, but they wouldn’t let us.

“But I think the journey we’ve been on in recent weeks compared to the one they’ve been on in recent weeks probably showed.

“They’ve played some Championship teams in the Qualifiers and we’ve been involved in some very high intensity games.”

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