Leeds have been in fine form since Brian McDermott's outlandish claim
McDermott voiced his opinion in early March, just a week after the Rhinos had been stuffed 66-10 at Castleford – their heaviest Super League defeat.
Since that televised humiliation, Leeds have been virtually unstoppable and yesterday’s first-half dismantling of lowly Widnes ensured a sixth win from seven games, taking them joint top of the table.
Having won 52-24 at Hull on Good Friday, McDermott could reflect on a successful Easter, a notoriously gruelling period during which players are forced to put their aching limbs on the line for a second time in four days.
McDermott, who led Leeds to the treble in 2015, said: “You don’t normally speak in post-match press conferences about a desire to get to a Grand Final, but I don’t mind saying it.
“It’s making it public because unashamedly that is what we want to do. We want to do the treble – that’s our goal.
“We realise it’s a big call, we know that more than anyone, so to have any chance of sounding credible when you mention it then you have to keep on putting in performances so you don’t sound like a madman.
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“The first half today was great and our performance at Hull on Friday was right up there. We are gaining some confidence, especially with the ball.”
Although the scoreline suggested a reasonably close contest, Leeds had effectively won the game by half-time after racking up a 30-6 lead.
England centre Kallum Watkins continued his recent impressive form by superbly fielding Danny McGuire’s high kick and touching down to open the scoring.
Hooker Matt Parcell, who has slotted seamlessly into McDermott’s side after arriving from Manly during the winter, added a second before Joel Moon collected Adam Cuthbertson’s clever pass for Leeds’ third.
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Widnes, who remain bottom of the table and are wrecked by injuries, handed debuts to teenagers Liam Walsh and Owen Farnworth.
They also lost Danny Craven (fractured finger), Lloyd White (hamstring) and Tom Armstrong (knee) during yesterday’s game but stand-off Tom Gilmore pulled a try back before half-time.
Yet Moon scored his second and Tom Briscoe also touched down to make it 30-6 at the break and underline superiority of Leeds, who saw prop Anthony Mullally sustain broken ribs.
Leeds were sluggish in the second period as Widnes hit back with three more tries from Gilmore, Chris Houston and Corey Thompson, cutting the Rhinos’ lead to just eight points.
However, Watkins and Parcell scored late on to join Moon in completing a brace and leave Vikings boss Denis Betts utterly dejected.
Betts said: “We got ambushed in the first half and life is not nice when you’re not winning games – my wife isn’t happy and the kids don’t talk to me.
“You can talk about an injury crisis and young lads getting a chance, but we need to start winning.”