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Leeds Rhinos

2017 Super League Champions

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Catalan Dragons 24 Leeds Rhinos 37

19th July 2008

By Leeds Rhinos

The Rhinos produced a clinical second half performance to come from behind to beat Catalans Dragons 37-24 at Stade Gilbert Brutus. The Rhinos travelled to the South of France looking to maintain their position in the all important top two but faced a Dragons outfit who had won their last seven games and were just one point behind Leeds in the table. Lee Smith replaced Brent Webb at full back whilst there was a return for Ian Kirke on the bench after being out injured since the fourth game of the season. Despite the 8pm kick off, the game started in hot conditions with a fantastic atmosphere generated in the sold out Stade Gilbert Brutus, a record attendance for the French side.

Both teams came out fired up with some big hits from the forwards as they looked to gain the early upper ground. Leeds got the first chance to score when Rob Burrow kicked high towards the posts and Lee Smith was quickest to react and score. Sinfield added the simple conversion to make it 6-0 after four minutes. Catalans hit straight back three minutes later after a mix up between Clinton Toopi and Ryan Hall gifted them possession 20 metres from the Leeds line. They bided their time before quick hands released Cyril Stacul down the wing and he managed to get the ball down before being bundled into touch by Scott Donald. Thomas Bosc added the conversion to level the score. The home side then took the lead for the first time after 15 minutes but again it was a Leeds error that led to the score. A high kick to Hall was misjudged by the youngster and after it slipped through his arms it bounced kindly into the arms of the onrushing Olivier Elima. Bosc added the easy conversion to make it 12-6. The Rhinos we left to feel aggrieved at referee Ian Smith when he missed a late hit on Danny McGuire after he kicked on the last tackle. Instead, the Rhinos found themselves penalised for a high tackle in the first tackle of the next set and Catalans kicked into a position to attack. Two tackles later, Sebastien Raguin produced a great second effort to force his way over in the corner. Bosc again converted to make it 18-6 after 25 minutes. The Rhinos finally got a change of luck after 34 minutes when they managed to get a period of pressure with the ball. Donald and Burrow combined to send the scrum half away. He was tackled 30 metres short but McGuire spotted space outwide and kicked across field. Dimitri Pelo failed to deal with the ball and could only knock the ball down into the path of Hall, who dived on the chance. Sinfield was off target with the conversion so it remained 18-10. Leeds ended the half in the ascendency but they could not find a way through to cut the deficit.

WP – Home MPU

However, buoyed by that effort, the Rhinos did get the first score of the second half after 43 minutes. Burrow was cool under pressure when a long pass bounced in front of him, he chipped the ball up into his hands and then stepped passed the Catalans defender. He drew the last man before passing back inside for McGuire to go over for his 15th try of the season. Sinfield added the conversion to make it 18-16. Leeds were their own worst enemy again five minutes later. From a penalty, Catalans kicked for touch but Hall managed to keep the ball in field only to knock on as he attempted to pick up the ball. Three tackles Elima bounced off the tackles of McGuire and Sinfield to score between the posts. Bosc added the conversion to make it 24-16 to the home side. As befitting a clash of two heavyweights in this year's engage Super League, both teams continued to slug it out. It was the Rhinos who got the next scoring blow and it came from some great footwork by Burrow. He stepped around the Catalans defence before racing clear. As Greenshields closed in on him he passed back inside to the supporting run of McGuire to score. Sinfield missed the conversion but the score was not 24-20 after 53 minutes. Just before the hour mark, the game entered a crucial minute. Firstly, Perpignans were denied a try by the video ref when he adjudged Greg Mounis had knocked on trying to ground Casey McGuire's threw kick. Thirty seconds late, Ali Lauitiiti supported the break by Sinfield to burst clear from 35 metres out to score. Sinfield converted to give the Rhinos a 26-24 lead but with a long way to still go in the game. The Rhinos had to withstand a strong test to their defence after 71 minutes. Firstly, Smith had to produce a great cover tackle to stop a certain try. However, Catalans did manage to force a repeat set and from that Dale Carlaw was denied a try by the video ref when replays showed he had knocked on trying to touch the ball down from a grubber kick. Leeds then took a crucial lead in the game with six minutes remaining. Scott Donald caught a kick 18 metres from his own line and then went on an arcing run one way and then the next before racing clear to score in the corner. Sinfield missed the conversion so the lead remained at just six. However, on his next visit to the Dragons territory the skipper did extend his side's lead with a coolly taken drop goal with three minutes remaining. The icing was put on the cake in the final minute when Clinton Toopi and Danny McGuire combined to send Ryan Hall away down the touchline to score his second try of the night. Sinfield's touchline conversion capped a fantastic 37-24 win for the Rhinos and took them back joint top with St Helens in the engage Super League.

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