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Brian McDermott remains calm despite latest Leeds loss

McDemott's Rhinos crashed out of the Challenge Cup at the first hurdle Credit: PA

Leeds coach Brian McDermott watched his bottom-of-the-table team crash out of the Challenge Cup at the first hurdle but insisted he has gone though tougher periods in his time in charge of the Rhinos.

Last year's treble winners and back-to-back Wembley winners look destined to finish 2016 without a trophy after going down 36-22 to Huddersfield in the sixth round of the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup but McDermott remained defiant, insisting his injury-hit team are still aiming for a top-four finish in the league.

"I've been through far tougher periods than this," McDermott said.

I've been on record for the last eight weeks saying pretty much the same thing, about some of the things that are not in our control. I've been in a position with this group where we've had everything available to us and we haven't been great as a team. And they were tough moments a few years ago. But we've got a group of blokes who are spirited and are up for it. We're going through some tough times as a group and this is one of them. I don't think it's a form thing. We've got a group of senior blokes who are taking care of a group of younger men. The younger men are at times making some naive choices and senior blokes are probably feeling a bit of pressure. We're not playing well and at times looking like we are lacking cohesion but I'm not watching a group of people who don't care.

– Brian McDemott
Leeds won the Challenge Cup last year on their way to an historic treble Credit: PA

The holders actually made the best possible start, with centre Jimmy Keinhorst scoring the first of his two tries in the first minute, but they trailed 19-6 at the break and were constantly on the back foot in the second half, especially after having former Huddersfield forward Brett Ferres sin-binned.

Ferres was shown a yellow card for protesting to referee Ben Thaler over Ryan Brierley's length-of-the-field try that put the Giants two scores in front.

"He enquired about a potential ball reef at other end of the field and probably asked in a colourful fashion," McDermott said.

"I thought it was bit harsh. I would like to think a senior referee can manage a senior player a little better than that."

Leeds, who have won just three of 13 games in their title defence, will have a chance to make up ground on eighth-placed Castleford when they play them next Thursday and McDermott insists they have something to play for.

"Well, numerically we can still make the top four," he said. "That's where we're at. It's a big ask but that's what we're going for."

Huddersfield climbed off the foot of the table with their 28-20 win over Leeds a week earlier and can now look forward to Sunday's Cup quarter-final draw.