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'A real low point' - Leeds Rhinos boss Rohan Smith reacts after latest Super League thumping

Leeds Rhinos head coach Rohan Smith admitted his side’s record 61-0 Betfred Super League loss to Catalans Dragons in Perpignan represented “a real low point” in his career at the club.

Coming on the heels of last week’s abject 50-0 home defeat to Wigan, the latest Rhinos humiliation ended their faint mathematical hopes of squeezing into the end-of-season play-offs.

For the second week in a row, Smith was forced to defend his young players, many of whom have experienced a quicker than expected ascent to the first-team squad due to a series of high-profile departures and injuries.

“This is a real low point but it is professional sport and it happens,” said Smith. “We had a real young team out there tonight and it was always going to be difficult.

“I spoke about transition recently but it was not about having four senior players leave during the season and then you throw five or six injuries on top of that, you’ve got 10 or 11 of your top 22 players unavailable.

“That isn’t the transition we had been hoping for, so we’re learning some hard lessons and the experiences are tough for all of us.”

Three tries and nine goals from Adam Keighran wrapped up a stunning win for Catalans which could prove crucial in their quest to secure second place in the final table, and with it the guarantee of a single, home game in their bid to reach a second Grand Final.

Catalans head for Salford next week knowing that barring a major points swing, a win will be enough to earn the slot but head coach Steve McNamara maintained his buoyant side would be focusing on getting the job done.

“It’s important that we don’t get too carried away, like we didn’t get too carried away with two recent losses,” said McNamara.

“We knew we had to play well to win the game and be really disciplined. Sometimes when a score goes away from the opposition you can get a little bit loose but we played strongly throughout.

“The players bounced into the stadium today and they just wanted to play, they didn’t care how strong the opposition was, they just wanted to get out there.

“When you’re going into the play-offs, being in good form is what it’s really about. Whether we finish first, second or third will be decided next week but tonight was a good point to start from.”

Meanwhile the Rhinos will finish another poor season in a dead rubber next week against Castleford, whose survival was secured by Wakefield’s loss at Leigh on Friday night.

Smith added: “Almost everyone in their career has been through some part of this, whoever you play for, or follow. Sometimes you have rough times and we’ve got to fight our way out of it and play strongly next week.”

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