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The Rhinos came into their third-round clash without the services of the injured Mikolaj Oledzki and the suspended James Donaldson and Sam Lisone as the Catalans Dragons were in Leeds looking for their third consecutive win at the start of the season.

A win by thirty-two points or more would lift the Dragons to the top of the table but a win for the Rhinos by twenty-three or more points would lift them above the visitors today and keep them in touch with the top of the table despite last weeks loss at Hull KR.

The bookies had made the Rhinos slight favourites for the win with a two-point handicap on the coupon but there was very little to choose between the two sides.

The Dragons lost Mike McMeeken in the warm-up, replaced by Julien Bousquet in the starting line-up, a little unsettling in the minutes prior to kick-off.

Both sides made early errors, both inside the Leeds twenty, the Rhinos having to put in a great defensive effort to keep their line intact.

On seven minutes James Bentley was hit in the face by Tariq Sims and then rested his elbow on Sims’ neck in retribution. The referee read the skippers the ‘riot act’ but kept his cards in his pocket.

It was all Leeds defence, withstanding the Dragons onslaught and putting in three tackles to every one from the visitors. The Rhinos were under the cosh but holding form.

Totally against the run of play the Rhinos got the first points of the game as Ash Handley chased down a Brodie Croft kick to the corner to beat Fouad Yaha to the ball to collect and ground in the left-hand corner. Rhyse Martin was unable to convert from the touchline, the Rhinos 4-0 ahead after just a single attack in the midst of masses of Catalans pressure.

Inside two minutes the Rhinos went in again with a neat left to right passing move on the last tackle before Harry Newman stepped inside his tackler and grounded. Newman was fouled in the act of scoring and the referee awarded an ‘eight point try’ because of the foul.  Sims was yellow carded for the foul. Martin was wide with the conversion attempt from wide but nailed the on from in front of the sticks for a 10-0 lead.

A swinging open hand from Andy Ackers gifted the Dragons a penalty twenty out from the Rhinos sticks, Arthur Mourgue kicking the two to reduce the arrears to eight points at the interval.

Five minutes after the restart the Dragons ran the ball on the last tackle with Chris Satae crashing the Leeds like through a stretched defensive line. Mourgue added the conversion, and the Rhinos lead was down to just two points.

On fifty-two Justin Sangare was pinged by the video referee for a high shot and was sent to the son-bin for ten minutes, Leeds under extreme pressure with multiple sets on their line but the Dragons opted to take the two, Mourgue slotting the ball between the uprights to level the scores.

On fifty-eight a swinging arm from Jordan Dezaria on Brodie Croft saw the Dragons man yellow carded, both sides down to twelve men. Everything to play for in the remaining twenty minutes.

A scintillating Rhinos try put them back in front with fourteen minutes left on the clock. Some great offloading through half a dozen pairs of hands culminated in a beautiful looping pass from Cameron Smith into the hands of Handley to go over for his second of the afternoon from ten metres out. Martin added the goal from the touchline, Leeds with a six-point advantage with thirteen minutes remaining.

Romain Navarrete was sin-binned for interference at the ruck on seventy-three, Martin kicking the resulting goal to extend the Rhinos margin to eight points and seal the win.

The Catalans Dragons had most of the possession and most of the position and will be wondering how they lost the game to a Rhinos side who struggled to get any play the balls in their opponent’s half. Leeds defence was nothing short of sensational and was the foundation for them to be able to strike with extreme pace on the break. This looked like a coming of age for the Rhinos, they took on one of the best sides in the competition and executed a near perfect game plan.

Leeds Rhinos: Miller, Roberts, Newman (T), Momirovski, Handley (2T), Croft, Frawley, Sangare (SB on 53), Ackers, Goudemand, Bentley, Martin (3G), Smith.  Subs: Holroyd, Ruan, McDonnell, O’Connor. 18th Man: Edgell.

Catalans Dragons: Mourgue (3G), Johnstone, Romano, Ikuvalu, Yaha, Abdull, Fages, Navarrete (SB on 73), Da Costa, Bousquet, Sims (SB on 29), Sironen, Garcia. Subs: Seguier, Nikorima, Satae (T), Dezaria (SB on 58). 18th Man: .  

Half-Time: 10-2.

Full-Time: 18-10.

Score Progression: 4-0, (SB), 8-0, 10-0, 10-2 : HT: 10-6, 10-8, (SB), 10-10, (SB), 14-10, 16-10, (SB), 18-10 :FT.

Lead Exchanges: Leeds  - Square - Leeds.

Referee: Chris Kendall.

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Posted by RLFANS News Hound on Sat 2nd Mar 2024 4:53 PM | Views : 3168 | Replies : 0 | BACK TO STORIES