Leeds coach Brian McDermott has played down suggestions the Rhinos are suffering deja vu after Todd Carney and Krisnan Inu combined to help Catalans Dragons smash the Rhinos 46-16.
In a repeat of last season, the Rhinos have now failed to win either of their first two games since triumphing in the Challenge Cup final showpiece at Wembley.
McDermott is confident this is only a minor blip, though, and said: “I don’t think it’s the same. Before last year’s Cup final we lost two in a row and the signs were there (that Leeds might fade away). I don’t see the same signs this year that I saw last year.
“Coming out of the game and looking beyond the scoreboard, I saw a lot of pride out there from my players, a pride to keep the scoreboard low – Catalans could have scored a lot more than they did – and that is credit to my players.”
Former Raiders, Roosters and Sharks five-eighth Carney was particularly dominant, scoring two tries as he tormented the usually stout Rhinos’ defence.
“He was outstanding,” Catalans coach Laurent Frayssinous added. “He showed how he can have such an impact on the team when he has the combinations with Morgan Escare, Ian Henderson and Scott Dureau.
“He showed some great touches of class, I was really pleased with his performance.”
Thomas Bosc, Carney and Inu scored first-half tries for the Dragons.
Bosc, Inu and Jordan Sigismeau then went over after the break before Ryan Hall responded for Leeds.
Jeff Lima and Elliott Whitehead of Catalans traded tries with Leeds duo Danny McGuire and Joel Moon as the French side eased to victory.
Coach McDermott heaped praise on Leeds’ opponents, adding: “Catalans were very good, they played some great rugby. I don’t have any issues with the result, the best team won.”
A delighted Frayssinous said: “It was a great way to send off the players who are leaving the club and played their last game at home.
“I’m really proud that as a group we could send them off in that way.
“Although I shared with the boys after the game, this win does not mean anything if we lose our last two games. We have to go to Warrington and Hull FC with the right attitude and win those games.”