McClennan - Sinfield so good
Melbourne boss sings the praises of his troops after brave display
Last Updated: 01/03/08 12:23am
Sinfield: Celebrating the Rhinos' win at Elland Road
Leeds coach Brian McClennan was full of praise for Kevin Sinfield after the Rhinos skipper booted his side to World Club Challenge glory.
"It's great to have a player of his ability to play the stand-off role. Great players have time and Kevin gives himself time."
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The reigning Super League champions battled their way to an 11-4 victory over Melbourne Storm at Elland Road.
Both teams registered a try apiece in the first half, Scott Donald sliding over just before half-time to cancel out Ryan Hoffman's effort.
In the end the difference between the two sides was Sinfield's kicking, the skipper slotting over a touchline conversion, two penalties and a late drop goal that sealed the win.
"We have Danny McGuire, Robbie Burrow and Kevin Sinfield here at Leeds, so we almost have a three-pronged attack," McClennan said. "Had we not had that after Danny got hurt then we would have been in trouble.
"But because Kevin Sinfield is the traditional, British ball-playing lock, I think that's what saved us.
"It's great to have a player of his ability to play the stand-off role. Great players have time and Kevin gives himself time.
"Near the end of the second half, he made a great break out of dummy half and that came a critical time when we really needed to make some yards.
"The skipper put his hand up and I just want to acknowledge what a fantastic skipper Kevin is for the Leeds Rhinos."
However, victory did come at a cost to the Rhinos, who made it five straight wins for the Super League champions over their NRL counterparts.
They lost both Danny McGuire and Clinton Toopi to shoulder injuries, leaving McClennan sweating over their fitness.
"We'll assess the two injured players tomorrow and it's too early to say how they're going to be in the coming weeks," he added.
"It was so windy out there and it became a war of attrition. There will be a lot of very sore bodies tomorrow and both teams should be congratulated for their efforts."
Melbourne coach Craig Bellamy was proud of his players for their brave display on foreign soil.
Despite being without skipper Cameron Smith and Greg Inglis, and the fact they are still in pre-season back Down Under, the visitors pushed the Rhinos all the way.
"I was really proud of their efforts," he said. "I thought our attack struggled and we didn't put them under too much pressure.
"They basically had the better of the field position but our attitude and defence was tremendous.
"I thought Dallas Johnson was simply outstanding for us and young Will Chambers, who has taken Matt King's spot, was also tremendous.
"We knew what Leeds were capable of all along and they're a really good footie team.
"One area they did hurt us was from dummy half and Matt Diskin was very good and then Rob Burrow later in the game."