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BACKLASH, WHAT BACKLASH?!


LEEDS' TOP SCORER

By Shamoon Hafez
April 14 2009

The supporters will have been disappointed by defeats to rivals St Helens in the cup, then Bradford in the league on Friday, but the loss to Salford sent shockwaves throughout the game. It is the first time the Reds have beaten Leeds in the Super League era and only their third victory over them in 50 years. No wonder 'boos' rang around Headingley at the final whistle.

The Rhinos slumped to a third consecutive defeat as Salford City Reds came into town and shocked the champions.

 

The 20-30 loss means they have some catching up to do on leaders St Helens, who are now four-points ahead of Leeds.

 

But the worrying thing for coach Brian McClennan will be the performance of the team.

 

Poor passing, missed tackles, dropped balls, being outmuscled in the pack and an inability to deal with kicks all contributed to the Rhinos’ downfall.

 

Yet Bluey maintains it isn’t the poorest performance by the team since he took charge.

 

“It wasn't our worst performance in my time here and, as hard as it is to take, if we handle this right it can be a good thing because you find out a lot about people in adversity,” he said.

 

Difficult to think back to a game in which they played badly as that, in my opinion.

 

However, the boss did admit that there is a crisis of confidence in the players at the moment which has led to three defeats on the bounce.

 

"As a club we have had a lot of success, winning back-to-back championships, but right now our confidence is down and there is a bit of indecision,” acknowledged McLennan.

 

He went on to say: "Everyone gets very upset, almost to the point of depression when we don't do well because expectations are so high among the players - almost too much at times.”

 

Take nothing away from the Salford side though. They were magnificent, getting in the faces of their opposition all game and deserving their first victory over Leeds since 1977.

 

Winger Ryan Hall, who has made an impressive start to the season, described his emotions after the game.

 

“You have to take is all in and then pick yourselves up for the next game, but more importantly make yourselves feel bad and say to yourself, ‘I don’t want to feel like that again,” revealed the 21-year-old.

 

And he signalled his intentions for the remainder of the season by saying: “One of my priorities this year is to become the top try scorer in the league and with hard work on the training pitch, I hope I can achieve that.”

 

Next up is a trip to the Galpharm Stadium against Huddersfield, who themselves have made a fantastic start to the season, finding themselves above the Rhinos in the table.

 

Leeds will have to put in a first-class performance if they are to stop the rot and chase down the leaders.

 

That’s what champions do though don’t they?

 

Shamoon Hafez

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