Richard Agar conceded that the better team won as the Wildcats fantastic 2012 season came to an end at the home of the reigning Champions.
A campaign that began with a pre-season friendly at Headingley Carnegie on Boxing Day 2011, concluded almost nine months later at the same venue as Leeds had too much class and big game experience for a valiant Wildcats effort.
Ben Jones-Bishop scored a hat-trick in the 42-20 win and Agar had no arguments with the result.
“Effort (was) not in question but energy got us,” said Agar.
“We knew we had to be good tonight and we didn’t quite execute to the level that we needed to and that we have this year. We created some opportunities where we put the ball down and I thought there were a number of times where they hurt us on kick-returns where perhaps we didn’t kick the ball as well as we could.
“The exceptional players in their team caused us some real damage. I thought the game was really summed up in the chance we had for Danny Washbrook with nine minutes to go to make a four-point ball game.
“I don’t think anyone would have backed against us at that point of having another crack at their line. But we didn’t execute and take the try, they run the length of the field and that is something that happened on a couple of occasions tonight and ultimately I thought that was the difference.”
The Wildcats were under the cosh for large spells, particularly at the start of the second half but some heroic defensive efforts kept them in the game only for the score to blow-out in the final fifteen minutes and Agar praised his sides commitment to the cause.
“We hung in there when we had no right to at times. The way the game had swung was very much on their side.
“I think the players that haven’t been here before will have benefitted from tonight. Our experienced players knew what it was all about and perhaps we did get caught short on experience at times tonight. I’ve got some troops in there that have come to Headingley in a play-off game against the Champions and are genuinely disappointed that they’ve not won and know exactly the reasons why they haven’t won. That to me is progress.
“Whilst we’re disappointed because we have seen things in there that we could have done better and it might have been a different outcome. The class between the two teams and the ability to go for those length of the field tries really was the difference between the two sides.
“Having said all that, the disappointment is an indication of how far we’ve come and what the players and the club have built up over the course of the last twelve months. If you’d have asked me after the first week’s training if we’d make the play-offs, I wasn’t too sure that we were going to win too many games.
“We knew it was going to be a huge rebuilding job. But we’ve rebuilt it well and we really try our best to play good rugby. I think we’ve come an awful long way and at this point it’s exciting to try and get the right players in to help our deficiencies and take the teams forward next year.”