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Allez le Bleu....et Ambre
Posted by southstander on October 02 2009 - 23:35:32

Two Tries

An emotion charged pre-match to mourn the passing of Leeds legend John Holmes was followed by a semi-final of passion and thunder.

Thirteen thousand Rhinos supporters said their goodbye to a past hero before raising the roof in support of their modern day heroes as they strove to overcome the clubcall pick Catalans Dragons and make it to their third consecutive Grand Final.

The form team from France were never going to be a walkover and after eighty minutes we knew that we'd been in one hell of a game.

We bring you all of the action here......

27

Rhinos

v

Dragons

20

Superleague XIV

Qualifying Semi-Final

2nd October 2009

Allez le Bleu....et Ambre

Leeds fans were rocked by the news that Ali Lauiti'iti, so instrumental in the win over the Robins a fortnight ago, was missing from tonights line-up after failing to shake off an illness which had laid him low all week. Simon Worrall got the call as the Rhinos packed four forwards onto the bench for what the coach knew would be a bruiser against the massive Dragons.

A decent enough following of true Frenchies and the obligatory 'Faux French' were in attendance, and the crowd was undoubtedly swelled by those wishing to pay their respects to John Holmes, observing an immaculate minutes silence, scarves aloft.

The opening ten minutes of the match demostrated quickly what we were to expect from the rest of the game. The Dragons came to 'beat us up' and from early on they were forcing errors, slowing our play-the-ball, and showing blistering pace themselves in attack at times using a union-esque rolling maul with the ball being offloaded, sometimes to the ground, to keep the ball alive. Some of the early hits were brutal, there will be bruises both sides of the channel tomorrow.

The Rhinos hit the front on thirteen. Brent Webb earned a penalty after a good break down the right and three tackles in McGuire stepped inside and went through a massive gap in the Dragons defence to raise the volume and get the scoreboard ticking. Sinfield kicked the conversion and we were up and running. Catalans hit straight back when McGuire failed to control a bouncing ball from the kick-off which found touch. The Dragons took the ball from the back of the scrum and Duport went over in the corner off a Carlaw pass. Bosc failed to convert but the visitors had sent a message that we were going to have to work for this one.

On twenty-two we looked to have extended the lead when a McGuire grubber was picked up by Smith but on his last home game before 'defection', Lee dropped the ball in the act of scoring and the video referee ruled 'NO TRY'.

Just after the half-hour the Rhinos hit a purple patch which eventually would prove decisive.

On thirty-two Leeds tapped a penalty, for an attempted decapitation of Matt Diskin, which was crying for a two-pointer and moved the ball around before a Burrow miss-out pass found Hall who came inside to score. Sinfield didn't convert, 10-4.


Jekyll & Hyde

Three minutes later and a great break by JJB got him to the Dragons twenty before he was ankle tapped. He got to his feet but the full back got across to make the tackle, but not before an offload to Hall which saw him in at the left corner. Sinfield goaled this difficult chance for 16-4.

Just two more minutes elapsed before we scored what could be the try of the season. A great break down the wing By Donald, off a Sinfield long pass, saw him to the Dragons forty before he put in a high kick to centre field. McGuire was perfectly placed to catch the ball on the full and go over under the sticks as the SouthStanders went bonkers. Sinfield goaled for 22-4 at half-time and it looked like our place at Old Trafford was booked.

The Dragons had hit us hard for half and hour and only when they started to tire did we manage to find some space to exploit their weakness wide and run in three crucial tries. We should expect the same effort from the visitors in the second half, this was still going to be pretty tough.

Leeds started the second half well. On forty-three a Sinfield bounce pass took advantage of the winger having come inside and Donald accepted the invitation to catch on the half-volley and go over in the corner. Sinfield once again missed but at 26-4 it looked all over....no-one told the Dragons.


Crucial DG
On forty-six Leeds dropped the ball on their own thirty and the Dragons took full advantage with Duport over in the corner. Bosc missed the extras.

On fifty-four the Rhinos forced error was on their own twenty and once again ot was Duport who went over in the right-hand corner. This time Bosc goaled for 26-14 - two converted tries in it.

On sixty-two Leeds rejected the opportunity of two points when awarded a penalty twenty out. Instead they ran it, before Sinfield considered the error of his ways and kicked a drop goal from twenty out on the fourth tackle. A thirteen point margin and we could all breath a little easier.

With six minutes remaining Mogg found a big gap in the Leeds defence and scored next to the posts allowing Bosc an easy conversion, but then the Rhinos managed to weather the storm to finish winners by a seven point margin at 27-20.

In the end we did what we needed to, and got to Old Trafford, but the Dragons gave us one hell of a scare along the way. We won the game in a five minute spell at the end of the first half, but I'm glad that there weren't any more minutes at the end of the second or we could be looking at an embarrassing exit. There looked to be some elements of self-preservation in that second half, players with one eye on making Old Trafford, an it nearly backfired in a big way.

This was a far closer match than it should have been and all credit to the Dragons who have once again had a great season. For Leeds a fitting tribute to a real fighter John Holmes, and the chance to win that third consecutive Grand Final in his memory.

Let the build-up begin tomorrow night with Wigan and Saints battering each other!

Please vote for your Man-of-the-Match in the front page poll.


Match Facts

Rhinos
Dragons
No.
Player
T
G
DG
No.
Player
T
G
DG
1
Webb
1
Greenshields
2
Donald
1
18
Duport
3
3
Smith
11
Raguin
4
Senior
15
Baile
5
Hall
2
5
Pelo
6
McGuire
2
4
Mogg
1
7
Burrow
6
Bosc
2
8
Leuleui
23
Ryles
14
Diskin
9
McGuire
10
Peacock
10
Guisset
11
Jones-Buchanan
16
Elima
18
Ablett
17
Gossard
13
Sinfield
3
1
26
Bird
16
Bailey
8
Ferriol
19
Burgess
14
Carlaw
17
Kirke
19
Touxagas
21
Worrall
24
Casty

Kick Off:
20:00
Half-Time:
22-04
Referee:
Richard Silverwood
Crowd:
13,409


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