Richard Agar pays tribute to Ash Handley after Leeds’ win over Wakefield

Leeds coach Richard Agar paid tribute to acting captain Ash Handley after he led from the front to help the Rhinos secure a 20-18 victory over Wakefield at Belle Vue to keep alive their Super League top-four hopes.

Winger Handley, leading his side in the absence of an injured Luke Gale, scored two first half tries, taking his tally for the season to 20, and laid on one for his centre Liam Sutcliffe as the Rhinos secured only their second league win in five games.

“It’s a little bit unusual for a winger to captain a team but I knew it would inspire him,” Agar said.

“It’s an accolade he’s earned. He’s a part of our senior group who has come on in leaps and bounds.

“He leads by his actions and I thought he carried us on our backs for long periods today.”

Wakefield were on course for a fourth straight win – and their second over Leeds in four days – when they led 18-14 thanks to tries from Lee Kershaw, Joe Westerman and Innes Senior, all converted by Ryan Hampshire.

But hooker Brad Dwyer, one of three players playing their fourth game in 10 days, burrowed his way over for the match-winning try 13 minutes from the end to earn raptures from his coach.

“Brad has had Covid and his recovery from games is very difficult,” Agar revealed. “Yesterday he could hardly move, he could barely lean over and tie his bootlaces up.

“We gave him the option to play, he brings tons of energy to us.”

Agar says he had to stand down one player after a family member contracted Covid-19 and was forced to leave players on the field with injuries after running out of substitutes.

“We’ve had a very, very tough run in terms of the demands on us and training yesterday was more like roll call to see who could play,” he said. “It was pretty much last man standing.

“It was never going to be pretty but it was a must-win game and I’m really pleased the guys found the guts and will to win.

“We lost Rob Lui and Kruise Leeming to head knocks and two other players shouldn’t have been out there but we couldn’t get them off the field as we had used all our subs up.”

Wakefield coach Chris Chester admitted it was a win that got away but he was proud of his players’ efforts.

“We threw it away,” he said. “We did a lot of good work in the first half, the frustrating part is that we didn’t really make them work hard for any of their tries.

“Considering what both clubs have gone though, I thought it was a great effort from both teams. The game didn’t have a great deal of quality but you saw two teams fighting really hard.

“I’m disappointed with the result but pleased with some of the efforts and with what we’ve been able to do in blooding some youngsters.

“I though Harry Bowes was fantastic for us on his debut. He was a real ball of energy.”

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