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Super League: Leeds Rhinos boss Rohan Smith reacts after abject defeat to Hull FC

Defiant Leeds head coach Rohan Smith is convinced his side are capable of turning their season around despite an abject 18-10 Betfred Super League defeat by Hull at the MKM Stadium.

Tries from Lewis Martin, Denive Balmforth and Cam Scott snapped the hosts’ 11-match losing streak and heaped more pressure on Smith, with a section of the visiting fans once again demanding his dismissal.

But Smith insisted: “That game was filled with promise. There is a lot of talent and belief in this squad, and the message is that we will stick together, keep working hard, own our mistakes and make it the best week we can.”

Tributes were paid to Rob Burrow prior to kick-off but Smith refused to use the emotion that has swirled around Headingley over the past fortnight as an excuse for a display that provides little optimism for a post-season play-off place.

Instead he is determined to channel any residual emotion towards the Rhinos’ home clash with Leigh next Friday, which is heading for a rare sell-out as the club prepare to pay tribute to their talismanic former scrum-half.

“Emotions are a difficult thing, you can’t measure where people are individually,” said Smith.

“Some people didn’t know Rob but admired him for what he did on and off the field, and others were very close to him.

“For anyone who has lost people they are close to, there is an emotional cost to that. It has been tough for them, they treasured their time with him and I’m sure they wish they could have got a win for him today.

“We have the opportunity to reset and look forward to next week, which will be a special occasion and a good opportunity to fight back.”

Smith blamed a lack of patience for his side’s demise but in reality their second-half tries from Ash Handley and Harry Newman – the second converted by Rhyse Martin – served only to put some gloss on a thoroughly abject display.

Hull were far from blameless for their part in an instantly forgettable first period but deserved their 12-0 lead on effort alone, and Ben Reynolds’ trio of conversions added enough to protect them from the Leeds revival.

Victory was particularly sweet for interim head coach Simon Grix, who has presided over six consecutive defeats since he stepped in following the dismissal of Tony Smith – coincidentally Rohan’s uncle – in early April.

Grix said he was “relieved”, adding: “It was a reward for persistence and hard work, because not getting the results has been hard.

“Today we got more right than we got wrong. We’ve still got some way to go to get where I’d like us to be, but we’ve made progress and got two points and I thought we showed a lot of commitment to the jersey.

“I thought we started poorly till we got into the game, and to come in at half-time with the scoreboard in our favour was a nice and different feeling.

“We need to approach it like the underdogs we are every week. We’re not going to get carried away with two points, because the season hasn’t gone how we’d like it to do, so we’ve just got to carry on showing that commitment.”

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