McDermott worried by Rhinos form
Leeds coach Brian McDermott admits his side will face a difficult defence of their Stobart Super League title after ending the regular season with a crushing 48-24 defeat at seventh-placed Huddersfield.
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The champions were hoping to go into the play-offs with some momentum but they were outplayed by a rejuvenated Giants side who enjoyed only their fourth win in the second half of the season.
The Rhinos were trailing 48-10 and even three tries in the last six minutes failed to mask their failings as they prepare for the visit of in-form Wakefield in next Saturday's elimination play-off.
"We've a job on with Wakefield next week," McDermott said. "I'm sure Richard Agar will be looking at that and rubbing his hands together. We've a big task."
Leeds could go into that tie without prop forward Ian Kirke, who went to hospital after being knocked out in a tackle by Huddersfield's Luke O'Donnell, and second rower Brett Delaney.
"Ian Kirke lost consciousness for a few minutes," McDermott said. "He wasn't in great shape so they've taken him to hospital for a check-up."
Leeds later announced Kirke was discharged from hospital after checks cleared him of any serious injury.
McDermott said he did not see the incident which led to O'Donnell being sent off by referee Thierry Alibert for an alleged deliberate use of the forearm on Kirke.
Alibert initially allowed play to continue and issued a warning to O'Donnell during a 10-minute stoppage while Kirke received treatment on the field.
The Australian forward was then replaced by substitute Larne Patrick but several minutes later was recalled to the field by the referee and, once Kirke had been carried from the field on a stretcher, was shown the red card.
Huddersfield coach Paul Anderson criticised Alibert's actions and remains confident O'Donnell will be available for his side's play-off tie at Hull next Sunday.
"My take on it was that he was initially put on report for a high tackle and sent off retrospectively," Anderson said. "I don't agree with it.
"Can you send somebody off because you think something has happened five or six minutes after it took place?
"I appreciate the bloke was hurt and I wish him well but it's a physical game and from the footage I believe it was a clash of heads."
Huddersfield were leading 10-0 at that stage after newly-appointed captain Danny Brough had created tries for Leroy Cudjoe and Luke George and they made light of their numerical disadvantage to stretch their lead to 22-6 at half-time.
Brough finished the game with 20 points from a crucial opportunist try on the stroke of half-time and eight goals as Huddersfield completed their first league double over Leeds for more than half a century.
"The Giants got hold of that game early," admitted McDermott. "It was never a contest after 10 minutes and the try just before half-time was a big one in terms of momentum.
"We lost Ian Kirke and Brett Delaney and it caught up with us in the second half. We showed some resilience and I thought we had some outstanding performers. Jamie Peacock was absolutely immense."
Centre Kallum Watkins scored two tries in the last six minutes as Leeds added a touch of respectability to the scoreline but Anderson was furious over his side's late collapse.
"The last 15 minutes didn't impress me at all," he said. "It's something we're going to be looking at.
"For 65 minutes I was over the moon but then some people clocked off.
"But our effort in regard to the circumstances was outstanding and that's a compliment to our forwards and the conditioners."