Kevin Sinfield

As the defending champs, you would have expected the Leeds Rhinos to put in a strong showing, but the magnitude to which they dismantled rivals Hull FC, would have their opponents quivering in their boots.

Before the game even started, however, Hull FC were dealt a massive blow, losing English back-rower Gareth Ellis to a foot injury, a loss that was felt in more ways than one in the end.

The game was evenly poised at half-time as both sides were locked at 6-apiece, but the second half showed that Leeds had too much for Hull FC, who could not maintain the same defensive intensity that they did in the first half.

Brian McDermott, the coach of Leeds, put the win down to steely resolve in defence by his side throughout the game – allowing his side to play their style of footy.

“It was a tough one to start with and we knew it would be,” McDermott said.

“For 60 minutes it could have gone either way.

“Although it was 6-6 at half-time, I thought we were the more dominant team. But had Hull scored early in the second half it would really have been game on.

“I thought we were very good. They lost Gaz Ellis and it obviously affected them. As the half went on, our strike had a bearing on the game. You can’t reach that level every week but you can maintain that effort.”

Despite the loss of Ellis, Hull FC coach Peter Gentle refused to use that as an excuse for his side’s loss to Leeds, instead conceding that his side has some lessons to learn for future rounds.

“It started off bad for us and it got worse. Losing Gareth was not ideal, but we’re not going to use it as an excuse,” said the Black and Whites boss.

“We fall apart in the second half and we started to play as individuals rather than as a team. It’s a massive reality check for us in terms of how far we are off the top teams and we have a lot of work to do.

“We knew it would take a while for us to hit tom form, but that second half didn’t resemble anything that we’d planned.

“We had 13 individuals who thought they were helping, but they were only contributing to our downfall.

“It’s disappointing but I still believe we can get into that top four as that’s not a fair indication of what we can do.”

With a week’s turnaround before their clash against the Bradford Bulls, Gentle believes that his side were left to rue their missed opportunities, as they failed to capitalise when needed.

“I thought there was an opportunity after half-time to apply a bit of pressure but we let them off the hook with our decision making and errors,” he said.

“They’re a very good side and everybody knows their role. They played as a team and when they coughed the ball up, they were good enough to defend on the back of it.

“We had six new signings playing and I thought that when we were fatigued we fell into our old habits.”

By ricky

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