McDermott: Rhinos had to be tough
6:46am Saturday 1st March 2014 in © Press Association 2014
Leeds coach Brian McDermott insisted his side's 40-12 victory over Catalan Dragons was not as easy as the scoreline suggested, despite tallying seven tries in the south of France.
Kevin Sinfield, who earlier in the week had been ruled out of the game with an ankle injury, turned in a man-of-the-match performance with a try and six conversions, while Ryan Hall also touched down twice for the Rhinos.
A spate of absences seemed to take their toll on Catalan, but McDermott was adamant it was still a difficult match for his players.
He said: "We planned for that being a tough fixture, but we also appreciated that Catalan have got a lot of key members of their team missing from their team.
"We said that if we just live with them for the first 30 minutes then we should have some opportunities at the end of the first half. It pretty much went to script but, for that to happen, we had to be very, very tough.
"Credit should go to both teams in the first half. Catalan scored a great, early set-piece try and it was a massive contest for half an hour. I thought we looked for too much, especially in the second half, and we got a bit scrappy."
McDermott felt Sinfield should be given most of the plaudits for his side's winning performance.
"I thought Kevin Sinfield was going to have two weeks off after his ankle injury last week, but it's remarkable what can happen with medicine and you have to give Kevin a lot of credit," the coach said.
"He did everything he possibly could to make sure he would be ready for this game and, to top that, he was instrumental in the game."
Catalan coach Laurent Frayssinous admitted his team simply could not compete with the Rhinos.
He said: "It was a tough game for us against very good opposition. Leeds were too good for us tonight, it seemed like England versus France at times.
"They strangled us with their last play. They are pretty good at that and have been good at that for many years, with Danny McGuire and Kevin Sinfield.
"Unfortunately, we couldn't do that when we were attacking their line and that is why they have won so many finals in recent years."
Injuries are also causing a headache for Frayssinous, with two more players limping off against Leeds.
"I thought we tried hard, but unfortunately it wasn't good enough, especially on the last play," said the Catalan coach.
"Injuries unfortunately hit us hard again. We lost Daryl Millard before the game and Ian Henderson just before half-time with a broken radius. We have another eight players out though injury or suspension, so we're doing it tough at the moment."