“There’s no better fans than Leeds Rhinos” – Rohan Smith praises fans after amazing comeback win

Today, Leeds penned one of the all time greatest rugby league stories.

It was a rollercoaster of emotion and had an ending that even a Hollywood script writer would claim pushed the boundaries of suspension of disbelief.

The Rhinos trailed 30-6 with 20 minutes to go, there were down a man for the rest of the game after Matt Prior had been shown a red card having already been yellow carded earlier in the piece.

But that ignited a fire within the Rhinos which inspired possibly the greatest comeback in Super League history.

Richie Myler scored a quick fire hat-trick before Brad Dwyer narrowed Catalans’ lead down to 32-30. Rhyse Martin then sent the game to golden point with a penalty and within extra time Aidan Sezer scored a lovely try to seal the win and end the most dramatic game of the season.

After the match, coach Rohan Smith was keen to put the emphasis on spirit using the defeat recently to Toulouse as the prime example of Leeds’ character: “There was a lot of spirit in that Toulouse game. Lots of blokes who were 21 or 20 or under or playing at the last minute so I think a lot of today’s success came from how we handled the conditions that day.

“I thought the game wasn’t really reflective of the score there at times, I thought it was a good arm wrestle. Probably the slowest game I’ve seen this year. Extremely slow and a lot of stoppages.”

He also praise the way his side kept running, kept fighting until the very end: “I was excited at the end because we were still full of running. Obviously we prepare to start well but we didn’t quite, we were quite clunky at the start of the game attack wise. We lacked any kind of fluency which didn’t take any petrol out of Catalans.

“But we’ve certainly been training like we can finish games strongly and that certainly came through.”

Smith may have only been in the Headingley hotseat for a matter of months, but he opened up about how much love he already has for his squad: “I love the squad that I’ve got and that’s the way it is. We’ve got the job of trying to build our roster but the deadline is gone for this year but the players I’ve got now I love that group and I have since I arrived.

“It’s a journey. It’s about improving week to week. We still haven’t played with our first choice team.

“I’ve been here 11 or 12 weeks and I haven’t had a first choice team to select from as yet, I’m still hopeful that there is improvement in us.”

One member of the squad who was vitally important today was of course match winner Aidan Sezer who has had a rough time as Leeds player but his coach had nothing but praise for him today: “He’s important for sure as any halfback is. I love Aidan, I’ve had a relationship with him for a long time. His running game is underestimated by everyone including himself so it was nice to see him get another there tonight.”

Smith also had his say on Matt Prior’s red card: “You’d have to slow those down and have a look. The one he got sent off for, if you slow it down up close the one angle we have, the player hits him in the chest so Matt has both feet on the ground – not sure.”

Unsure about that incident, but one thing he was sure about was the role the fans have played in Leeds’ recent resurgence: “I’ve been around rugby league my whole life and there’s no better fans than Leeds. I knew that before I took the job and they’ve only shown that in my time here, in times of turbulence.

“A lot of them wouldn’t have had a clue who I was, but they’ve shown me a lot of respect and they love those boys in there.

“Super grateful for those that travelled, for those that listened to the commentary, for the people who were at the game last week, the ones who’ll be there next week and the ones who’ll follow us anywhere.”

Lastly, Smith had time to praise his side’s performance in both attack and defence: “We’re trying to build a game where we can play free flowing footy and that helps when you are chasing points.

“The score board won’t say defence got you home but in the end it did, defending with 12 players for 35 minutes, to chase points and defend the tryline like we did it was unbelievable really.”

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