RHINOS SLIP TO FIRST DEFEAT
Leeds slipped to their first defeat of the season in the South of France as the Catalans Dragons produced a 18 point turn around in the second half to win 30-22.
Leeds slipped to their first defeat of the season in the South of France as the Catalans Dragons produced a 18 point turn around in the second half to win 30-22. The Rhinos led 22-12 at the interval thanks to tries from Jamie Jones-Buchanan, Scott Donald, Jamie Thackray and Lee Smith but the home side came firing back in the second half and scored 18 unanswered points to seal the victory. Rhinos skipper Kevin Sinfield started at hooker for the Rhinos as they travelled across the Channel to play Catalans Dragons with Jamie Peacock moving into the second row and Gareth Ellis starting at loose forward. The visitors put themselves under pressure in the early exchanges. Firstly, Danny McGuire knocked on from the kick off and then the Leeds half back could not hold a pass as the Rhinos tried to break out two sets later from their own line. A kick from McGuire’s namesake, Casey McGuire, in the Catalans line up caused the Rhinos more problems as the home side forced Leeds to drop out from their own line. Eventually the pressure told when Alex Chan fed Thomas Bosc and he beat Brent Webb to score. Aaron Gorrel added the conversion to make it 6-0 after 7 minutes. The Dragons could have increased their lead almost straight away when Kylie Leuluai tried to offload to Rob Burrow. All the scrum half could do was try and tap the ball back as it was out of his reach and Bosc was again on hand to intercept. He raced clear by McGuire did a great job of chasing back to stop the try. Casey McGuire kicked through but the ball went dead and the Rhinos took quick advantage. From the tap Kevin Sinfield spotted that the entire Dragons line had come up and kicked through. Scott Donald showed great pace to outstrip the home defence, who had a 20 metre start on him, to collect the ball however he was tackled by Greenshields. The Rhinos then moved the ball wide and Jamie Jones-Buchanan went in for the score after 9 minutes. Sinfield added the conversion to level the game at 6-6. The game was being played at a frantic pace and is was not long before the next score and it was the home side who retook the lead. Having gained possession from a penalty, they worked the ball towards the posts then hooker Gorrel put Alex Chan over for a try between the posts. Gorrel added the conversion to make it 12-6 after 16 minutes. The Dragons put the Rhinos under immense pressure with back to back sets on their own line but the visitors defence held firm and they leveled the game after 27 minutes with a try that will be a candidate for try of the season. Jamie Thackray took the ball up 40 metres out but instead of just taking the hit he chipped over the defence. The Dragons back line were caught in two minds and Thackray raced through and chipped over the defence again before collecting his own kick and running through for the try. A minute later the Rhinos took the lead for the first time when Jamie Jones-Buchanan bust the line on half way before drawing the last man and passing to Scott Donald to score his first try of the season. Sinfield converted both tries to make it 18-12. The Rhinos were growing in ascendency now and they got another scoring chance with a scrum 30 metres from the home line when Clinton Toopi’s offload was knocked into touch by the home defender. Sinfield spread the ball wide early to Senior to cause problems down the left and then play was reversed with a long pass from Brent Webb to release Lee Smith sent the winger away for the fourth try of the game. Sinfield’s conversion hit the post and bounced away but the Rhinos led 22-12 at half time. The Rhinos started the second half brightly putting Catalans under real pressure but they were hit by a sucker punch when the home side attacked from deep and Justin Murphy sent Casey McGuire away for a try, the half back just beating Sinfield to get to the line. Gorrel’s conversion drifted to the left of the posts leaving the score 22-16 after 47 minutes. Ten minutes later the Dragons leveled the game after a period of real aggression from both sides. Gorrel once again was the thorn in the side of the Rhinos as he sent Vincent Dupport away from short range for a try with quick pass. Gorrel then added the conversion from the touchline to level the score at 22-22. The Dragons had their tails up now and they re-took the lead with 14 minutes remaining when video referee Dave Campbell awarded Dimitri Pelo a try after Casey McGuire had chipped over the defence and Lee Smith was unable to regather the loose ball. Gorrel added the conversion from near the touchline to increase the home sides advantage to 28-22. It was clear that the home side sensed a famous victory in their short history and they continued to come firing out of the traps at Leeds. They were rewarded when Jamie Peacock was penalised for a high shot ten metres from the line right in front of the posts. Gorrel kicked the straight forward penalty to make it 30-22 after 73 minutes. The Rhinos battled hard in the closing minutes to try and get back into the game but Lee Smith was dragged into touch to kill the fightback off and the home side hung on for a famous victory. Catalans: Greenshields, Murphy, Dupport, Mogg, Pelo, Bosc, McGuire, Chan, Gorrell, Fellous, Raguin, Crocker, Mounis (c). Subs: Guisset, Ferriol, Teixido, Gossard Leeds: Webb, Donald, Toopi, Senior, Smith, McGuire, Burrow, Bailey, Sinfield (c), Leuluai, Jones-Buchanan, Peacock, Ellis. Subs: Lauitiiti, Kirke, Tansey, Thackray Ref: Richard Silverwood Attendance: 7,630