McDermott misery as Leeds knocked out of play-offs
Leeds Rhinos’ season ended with a 20-24 defeat at Headingley to Catalans in the play-off eliminator. Sam Williams’ late try ended the West Yorkshire outfit’s chances of a domestic double, having lifted the Challenge Cup at Wembley against Castleford.
Dragons coach Laurent Frayssinous was understandably delighted to claim the scalp in front of a hostile, capacity crowd: “We made history by becoming the first Catalan team to win at Leeds.
“In the context of the play-offs, against a team that has so much experience, to win that type of game it is pretty special,” he continued.
“We needed luck at the end when Tom Briscoe dropped the ball and Sam picked it up to score, but the performance, especially defensively, has been awesome and the attitude of the boys was good.”
Leeds coach Brian McDermott conceded his team were poor, though also indicated the match could have gone either way: “We weren’t good enough at any period of that game to win it.
“I didn’t think Catalans were great either but they were dogged throughout and exploited a couple of defensive weaknesses,” he added.
“They scored the try off Tom’s error but that’s not where the game was lost at all. We had at least another two defensive blunders and mediocre attack.”
Elsewhere, Wigan thrashed Huddersfield 57-4 as the reigning champions edged a step closer to retaining their crown, and are now 11/4 to do so. Half-back Matty Smith scored 21 points, and head coach Shaun Wane waxed lyrical about his display.
“I just wanted to win, whether it was by one point or 50 points, but the manner we did it pleased me. I’ll sleep well tonight.
“I thought our middles were dominant and we attacked really crisply. I’m not going to get carried away but if we compete the way we did today and we keep that energy, we will trouble teams.”
On Smith he said: “[Matty] Smith’s got a big heart and is a smart player. He’s playing well and defending tough. That [left] edge was fantastic. Dan Sarginson has gone under the radar but he’s been fantastic for me this year and now he’s getting the plaudits he deserves.”
Meanwhile, Warrington beat Widnes in a close encounter that finished 22-19, and Saints scalped the Tigers 41-0 at Craven Park. As a result, the Cheshire-based club are 10/3 second favourites to win the trophy, with Castleford overwhelming outsiders at 20/1.