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  1. ITV Report

McDermott: Sinfield recall no masterstroke

Leeds coach Brian McDermott insisted his recall of Kevin Sinfield was no masterstroke despite his skipper's man-of-the-match performance in the holders' 48-16 demolition of Huddersfield in the sixth round of the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup.

Leeds coach Brian McDermott insisted his recall of Kevin Sinfield was no masterstroke despite his skipper's man-of-the-match performance. Credit: Press Association

Sinfield, dropped for the Rhinos' two previous matches after previously being relegated to the bench, justified his return to the stand-off role by guiding his side into the last eight of the competition at the expense of a disappointing Giants team.

Youngster Liam Sutcliffe, who looks sure to step into Sinfield's shoes when he switches codes with Yorkshire Carnegie at the end of the year, was the player to make way after McDermott shuffled his side following the Super League leaders' shock defeat at Widnes last Sunday.

"There' s no mastermind about it," McDermott said. "It's just consistent with what we've done all year - team selection based on who we feel is going to get the job done that weekend.

"In the games that Kevin has missed, he's not been that far away. He's conducted himself impeccably, been a pro and it makes it an easier transition for him to come back in.

"Conversely, Sutcliffe, who hasn't been poor by any degree - he's just dropped off a little bit recently - had to pay the price based on his performance at Widnes, as has Kevin and Rob Burrow and other members of the squad so far this year."

Sinfield created one of two tries for England centre Kallum Watkins and kicked eight goals from nine attempts to move to within four points of Gus Risman in third place in rugby league's all-time list of pointscorers.

England winger Ryan Hall, two-try hero of Leeds' Cup final win over Castleford at Wembley last August, repeated the feat on his return from a two-month injury lay-off while Sinfield's half-back partner Danny McGuire scored one try to reach 1,000 points for the club.

"Danny was very good today and Kevin's influence on the game was big as well," McDermott said. "Both players ensured we stuck what we planned to do."

Leeds never looked back after scoring four tries in the first quarter to lead 22-0 although McDermott said he was wary of Huddersfield's recent comebacks against them.

The Giants trailed 18-0 and 22-6 in Super League games against Leeds this season only to fight back and set up close finishes each time.

"It was a pretty good start but I don't think Huddersfield were ever out of the game until around 65 minutes," McDermott said.

"At half-time we did mention that we'd been here before."

Huddersfield, who are the last team to beat the Rhinos in the Challenge Cup, briefly hit back before half-time through Kyle Wood but they fell 42-4 behind until a spirited late rally brought further tries to Brett Ferres and Scott Grix.

"We played a very committed team and made the decision not to go with it," said Giants coach Paul Anderson. "They basically ran harder and had more vigour in everything they did than we did.

"I don't think there was any way back after the first five minutes"

"At half-time we spoke about the fact we'd been here before. But it was too much for us today. You can't keep doing that against a good team like Leeds. They were better than us in all departments.

"The Cup has gone for this year and now we've got to dust ourselves down. We're fortunate in that we play on Thursday night so we haven't time to lick our wounds."