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Crunch Catalans Clash
Posted by southstander on April 01 2013 - 09:57:27

Possible Recall
What felt like a massive disappointment on Thursday night became more like relief as Fridays shock results unfolded.

Now the Rhinos have to back up with a trip to the South of France to take on a Catalans Dragons side with a one hundred percent home record.

While a win could conceivably lift us to fourth, a loss might see us slip tenth. Although we have two games in hand we don't want to be losing touch with the league leaders at the 'third of a season' stage.

We preview the game, read more here...

The Rhinos have been dealt a blow through the loss of Kylie Leuluai who picked up a minor injury in the draw with the Bulls. He has been replaced in the nineteen by Brad Singleton, the Cumbrian prop, who has made a single substitute appearance in each of the last two seasons and has been plying his trade under dual registration at Hunslet. What is more likely is that Chris Clarkson will get the nod, and Singleton and McShane will be able to use their time for a bit of sunbathing.

I have a suspicion that Peacock would have been rested had Kylie been fit to play and McDermott may well still let the big man sit it out after running his blood to water on Thursday.

Big Mac names the nineteen who will be on the plane this morning as; Watkins, Moon, Hall, McGuire, Burrow, McShane, Peacock, Jones-Buchanan, Ablett, Sinfield, Ward, Delaney, Bailey, Kirke, Clarkson, Achurch, Moore, Singleton, and Vickery.

Still no sign of Hardaker, who I understand is two to three weeks away from a return, or Ben Jones-Bishop who still has to be given the all clear by his specialist.

Catalans coach Frayssinous had sent a weakened side out against London last Thursday night and they almost go their fingers burnt. He recalls; Mounis, Fakir and Blanch to his nineteen and also has the opportunity to use Tongan prop Lopini Paea for the first time this season as he makes his return after a knee injury.

The Dragons nineteen is; Blanch, Pryce, Taia, Bosc, Elima, Henderson, Casty, Menzies, Anderson, Mounis, Pelissier, Millard, Pala, Simon, Fakir, Paea, Baitieri, Vaccari, and Escare.

The Catalans are unbeaten in three, and unbeaten in their five home matches this season. Their two defeats in 2013 have been at the hands of Wigan and Warrington but they did stumble to a draw away at Castleford meaning that the Tigers only points this season have come against tonights two opponents, probably stories the two coaches won't be sharing over their pre-match handshake.

Leeds haven't won a regular league round game in Perpignan since Superleague XV when a McGuire brace helped the Rhinos to a 34-24 win. The last time that the two sides met in Perpignan was in the play-offs at the end of last season when the Rhinos fought out a 27-20 win on their way to Old Trafford glory.

The Rhinos lead 11-4 in the regular rounds meetings between the two sides. Prediction
Dragons 20 16 Rhinos

Make no mistake this is a great Catalans side and I an doubtful whether we can go there and get the points. If we play like we did on Thursday then they will punish us, if we play like we did against Wigan then we should get the points. Without Leuluai and with an exhaused Peacock then I fear the former. I'm relunctantly going for a Dragons win.

Todays' forecast for the South of France today is for wall to wall rain, so it may make the lads feel a little more at home.

I expect that it will be a close game, the bookies have given the Rhinos a four point start on the coupon. I've not been able to get there this season so will be sat on the edge of my sofa and hoping that the lads can get the important two points to keep us in touch with the top of the table.

Enjoy the game.



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