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Super League: Brian McDermott praised Salford after Leeds beat them on Monday
They came with a game plan and pretty much exposed us quite a lot throughout that game, credit to them.
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Leeds coach Brian McDermott paid tribute to Salford after Rhinos' 32-4 victory over their Super League counterparts.
The hosts were flattered by the eventual scoreline after being held to 6-4 at the interval.
Three of Leeds' five second-half tries came directly from Salford kicks as McDermott's backs showed why they are so feared.
It was a clinical performance built on strong goal-line defence but Leeds were far from their best and their line was broken too often for their coach's liking.
"They punched a few holes in us throughout the game," said McDermott. "We're good at saving tries at the moment. We need to be asked less questions in the try-saving department and be better at shutting them out.
"I thought Salford were very dogged. They came with a game plan and pretty much exposed us quite a lot throughout that game, credit to them.
"It was anybody's game up until maybe 60 or 70 minutes in, and probably the difference was our outside backs."
A second defeat of the Easter period for St Helens allowed the Rhinos to move to the summit and McDermott has challenged his players to stay there.
"We are proud to be top and the task is to hold that position now," he added.
"I'd be a liar if I shrugged my shoulders and said 'yeah, well it doesn't really matter', it does. We'd like to be top and we want to lead from the front.
"There is a hell of a long way to go, though. Our challenge now is to keep hold of it, which we know is going to be incredibly hard."
Salford head coach Iestyn Harris was left to reflect on an opportunity missed, conceding Leeds "were there for the taking".
The Red Devils went into the Easter Monday contest on the back of a home defeat to Huddersfield and, even though they produced an improved showing, they fell to another convincing loss.
"I'm disappointed with the result but with regards to performance, I thought we were better," said Harris, who made wholesale changes to his side with one eye on Sunday's Challenge Cup tie against Widnes.
"I thought there were times in the game where if we had taken a couple of opportunities it could have swung in a different direction.
"Ultimately that is why Leeds are at the top. They are resilient when they are under pressure and they know how to handle those types of situations.
"We're not quite there yet as a team.
"We've got to make sure we work on the smaller areas so we can become a little bit more resilient and stay in games longer and turn the tide the other way, because I thought Leeds were there for the taking today."
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Super League Table
|9||Hull K R||27||23|
|10||Salford Red Devils||27||23|
|13||Bradford Bulls *||27||10|
|Sunday 14th September|
|Wakefield 18 - 42 Hull K R|
|Saturday 13th September|
|Catalan Dragons 28 - 6 Castleford|
|London Broncos 36 - 46 Bradford|
|Friday 12th September|
|Salford 36 - 6 Widnes|
|Huddersfield 17 - 16 St Helens|
|Hull 24 - 19 Leeds|
|Thursday 11th September|
|Wigan 24 - 20 Warrington|
|Sunday 7th September|
|Castleford 26 - 22 Wakefield|
|Hull K R 14 - 32 Catalan Dragons|
|Bradford 12 - 32 Widnes|
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