• Catalans Dragons
  • 26 - 14

  • Leeds Rhinos
  • Catalans Dragons
  • HT 18 - 6
  • Leeds Rhinos
13th November 2020 | KO 19:45 | Halliwell Jones Stadium | Super League Play Off

Catalans Dragons 26 Leeds Rhinos 14

RFL. SL Play Off. Dragons v Rhinos. Fri Nov 13th. © MATTHEW MERRICK PHOTOGRAPHY

Leeds Rhinos’ 2020 Super League season came to an end at the hands of Catalans Dragons as the Challenge Cup winners lost 26-14 in the Play Offs at the Halliwell Jones Stadium.

Assistant head coaches James Webster and Sean Long took temporary charge of Leeds as Head Coach Richard Agar was watching on from home after a member of Leeds’ coaching staff had received a positive COVID antigen test. Having spent their time on the sidelines due to track and trace protocols, Matt Prior, Konrad Hurrell, Tom Briscoe and Richie Myler all returned to the Leeds squad; Prior meeting with former Cronulla Sharks team mate and NRL Premiership winner James Maloney for the first time in 2020. Ava Seumanufagai also made his 150th career appearance, starting alongside Mikolaj Oledzki who signed  a new four year deal with the club during the week.

An intense first half saw the Dragons run out to a three score lead after only 30 minutes. Three time Grand Final winner and Man of the Match Sam Tomkins took the game to the Rhinos, assisting three tries, starting with a clean break after only one minute on the clock. Racing through the Leeds defensive line, the full back looked back inside for Tom Davies, who took the ball into the corner. James Maloney kicked his first conversion to give Catalans an early 6-0 lead.

Leeds’ backs were against the wall and an inspired break by Rhyse Martin on the fifth tackle unfortunately didn’t result in points. Turning the ball over on the half way line and a further penalty on Michael McIllorum camped the Dragons on the Leeds try line and on the fifth tackle, Tomkins’ grubber kicked for the in goal area was latched on to by Samisoni Langi before Tom Briscoe could kick the ball out of play. The video referee confirmed the grounding and Maloney added his second kick.

Leeds started to take the game to the Dragons after Maloney had been penalised for taking out Richie Myler without the ball. Great work from Seumanufagai and Martin pushed the Rhinos forward and a knock on from Folau earned Leeds a repeat set. On only the second tackle on their new set, space had opened up out wide for Briscoe but as the winger threw the ball backwards as he was heading for the touchline, David Mead intercepted and took the ball down the touchline, only to be dragged down by Martin in a great effort. The two time NRL Grand Final winner Maloney used his vision and chose to kick out wide for Davies on the next play but Handley made sure the Rhino earned a restart. Matt Prior thought he’d got his first try in Leeds colours on the twenty minute mark, driving through the line to get the ball down, but video referee Robert Hicks judged Kruise Leeming to be obstructing the Catalans defenders from tackling the Rhinos forward.

The problems began to mount up for Leeds as both starting props Seumanufagai and Oledzki failed Head Injury Assessments. The work of the Catalans forwards was proving to be the home side’s strongest asset and as they found themselves within scoring range, Tomkins’ high bomb was taken by Israel Folau, who managed to get himself to the try line.

Now 18-0 down, the Rhinos needed a spark and youngster Alex Sutcliffe provided a vital try towards the end of the half. Sam Kasiano had been penalised by Chris Kendall for stripping the ball from Konrad Hurrell and off the back of the territory, Liam Sutcliffe cut back inside from a Myler pass and offloaded for Gale to break through the line. Faced with a one on one against Tomkins, the Leeds skipper passed inside for the substitute Sutcliffe to get over for his first Leeds try. Martin converted in front of the posts to make the score 18-6 at half time.

 

The first try of the second half would be crucial and a fumble by Mead turned the ball over to Leeds in a great position. Earning a repeat set, Hurrell powered towards the posts off an inside pass from Lui, bounced off Kasiano and offloaded to Gale. Noticing the space out wide, the skipper spun the ball out for Prior, who broke in behind the defensive line and unselfishly passed for Liam Sutcliffe to finish in the corner.

The introduction of Brad Dwyer upped the pace for the Rhinos but although the visitors looked on top, Catalans’ threats going forward was proving difficult to stop with Leeds’ two props on the sidelines.

As the clock was winding down, the Rhinos started the throw the ball around and after stopping the Dragons after a set restart, Lui made a great break down the edge but a wild offload missed Hurrell and fell into the hands of Mead, who made up for his earlier error by taking the ball down the touchline to finish in the corner.

No sooner had Maloney kicked the goal, Leeds were soon back in contention thanks to Hurrell. Dwyer weaved his way through the line before offloading for Alex Sutcliffe, who moved the ball back towards the middle of the field. On the fifth tackle, when the kick looked like the easier option, Gale chose to run the ball and combining with Myler to release Liam Sutcliffe back in field, some great improvised play saw the ball fall for Prior, who once again passed the ball out wide for the Tongan centre to get in at the corner to narrow the score to 24-14.

As the game approached it’s climax, Maloney kicked an important penalty to take Catalans’ lead to 12 points and almost slotted a drop goal too, but the ball drifted just wide. Although Leeds’ short kick off was taken by Handley, who broke down field, the chance drifted away and sealed the Dragons a clash with St Helens in the Play Off semi finals.

Team Performance

Goals

0

1

Tries

0

3

Player Performance

PlayerTRGLDGYCRCI+I-
Richie Myler0000000
Ash Handley0000000
Liam Sutcliffe1000000
Konrad Hurrell1000000
Tom Briscoe0000000
Robert Lui0000000
Luke Gale0000000
Ava Seumanufagai0000000
Kruise Leeming0000000
Mikolaj Oledzki0000000
Bodene Thompson0000000
Rhyse Martin0100000
Matt Prior0000000
Interchanges
Alex Sutcliffe1000000
Brad Dwyer0000000
Cameron Smith0000000
James Donaldson0000000
PlayerTRGLDGYCRCI+I-
Interchanges
Stats Key
  • TR: Tries
  • RD: Red Cards
  • GL: Goals
  • I+: Interchange On
  • DG: Drop Goals
  • I-: Interchange Off
  • YC: Yellow Cards