Dragons and Rhinos set to write next chapter a decade after first meeting
Leeds Rhinos return to Perpignan on Saturday for their latest clash with Catalans Dragons ten years on from the first meeting between the sides in March 2006, here we take a look back at that first clash.
The Rhinos were convincing 58-10 winners over Catalans Dragons in Perpignan with Jordan Tansey scoring on debut.
The Rhinos played with a strong wind at their back in the first half and were soon on the scoreboard. Good handling released Rob Burrow before the Rhinos switched to the other side of the pitch and a good offload from Lauitiiti set McGuire away and he touched down in the corner. Sinfield kicked the conversion to make it 6-0.
The Rhinos then struck a killer double blow to the Dragons. Rob Burrow scored in bizarre circumstances when the ball shot out of the back of a Catalans scrum and the Rhinos scrum half scooped up the loose ball and dived over. Straight from the kick off Lee Smith set McGuire away, after beating the man, and he raced 80 metres upfield to score his second try. Sinfield converted both to make it 18-0 after 7 minutes.
The home side did strike back after 11 minutes through debutant Michael Dobson in fortunate circumstances. Dobson tried to kick through but it rebounded off the legs of a Leeds defender and picked up the bouncing ball to score. The conversion made it 18-6 after 12 minutes.
The Rhinos responded in fine style with a try after 16 minutes after a greak break by Sinfield, beating three men, before popping a pass inside to the supporting Scott Donald who sprinted through to score under the posts. Sinfield added the conversion to make it 24-6. Keith Senior then crossed for the Rhinos fifth try of the game after 19 minutes, although there was a touch of good luck in the build up with a forward pass going unnoticed by the official, Ian Smith. Sinfield added the conversion to make it 30-6.
After a pulsating, high scoring opening quarter the game then entered an inevitable lull. However Frayssinous gifted the Rhinos a try. He dropped the ball five metres from his own line and Chev Walker picked up the loose ball then touched down for the try. Sinfield missed his first conversion in 17 attempts so the score remained 34-6 after 33 minutes. Just before half time both teams were reduced to 12 men when Alex Chan was sent off for the home side and Chev Walker was sin binned for the Rhinos for an off the ball fight.
The Dragons started the second half in good form as they put the Rhinos under pressure and they scored the first try of the half when Justin Murphy held off the tackle of Lee Smith to score in the corner. The conversion was missed leaving the score a 34-10 after 50 minutes.
The Rhinos soon hit back though when Matt Diskin forced his way over from close range. The try came after a great break by Chev Walker who was only stopped by a cowardly head butt by Chris Beattie. Sinfield added the conversion to make it 40-10 after 58 minutes.
Four minutes later the Rhinos had a try for Lee Smith disallowed by the video ref after it was adjudged Ali Lauitiiti had knocked on in the build up. The Rhinos did however get the next score after towering kick by Kevin Sinfield was collected by Keith Senior, he drew his defender before offloading over his head to Ali Lauitiiti who powered his way over from 10 metres out. Sinfield added the conversion from the touchline to make it 46-10 after 68 minutes. Dobson looked certain to score with five minutes remaining but a brilliant man and ball tackle by Chev Walker denied him under the posts.
Walker then turned provider for the next try, he powered his way up field and was too big and too strong for the Dragons to deal with. He unselfishly passed back inside to Burrow when he could have scored and Burrow passed on the good will by handing the ball to Jordan Tansey under the posts to score on his debut. Burrow added the conversion to make it 52-10 after 77 minutes.
With the final play of the game the Rhinos finished off the scoring when Lee Smith picked up a loose pass by the home side and raced 90 metres to score under the posts. Burrow added the conversion to make the final score 58-10.
Leeds coach Tony Smith:
"We came here to do our job and we did it. The damage was done early and although we didn't always keep to the game plan, which was always going to be tough, I'm pleased with the way we kept going.
"Not only are the young guys coming through, like tonight, they are showing that they can play alright too."
Catalans director of football David Waite:
"It was pretty difficult when we didn't touch the ball for almost 10 minutes at the start of the match, and we looked at the board and were 18-0 down.
"We then went a man down but you can look at the catastrophic side or you can look at the positive side. We've seen the standards we need to achieve and our job is to work towards those levels, whether that be in one or two weeks, or one or two years."
Catalans Dragons: Frayssinous, Murphy, Wilson, Sadaoui, Verges, Rudder, Dobson, Chan, Rinaldi, Beattie, Hindmarsh, Guisset, Mounis.
Replacements: Fellous, Teixido, Bosc, Fakir.
Leeds Rhinos: Mathers, Donald, Walker, Senior, Smith, McGuire, Burrow, Bailey, Diskin, Peacock, Lauitiiti, Poching, Sinfield.
Replacements: Feather, Millard, Kirke, Tansey