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Can Leeds Slay Adamson's Dragons?
Posted by southstander on March 10 2006 - 09:05:00

Old Mate

You don't get many 'firsts' in rugby league, but saturday night sees an occasion stuffed with them.

It is the first time that the Rhinos have played the Catalans Dragons, the first time that we've travelled to the league hotbed in the South of France for a league game, and the first time that Tony Smith has come up against ex-SouthStand hero Matt Adamson, currently in temporary charge of the newcomers.

With 'firsts' come unpredictability, but with the bookies giving the home side a twenty-six point start, it would be a massive shock if the Rhinos didn't return to blighty with th two precious points.

Tony Smith continues his 'long hard season' strategy by blooding another youngster, Jordan Tansey. Tansey joins fellow Academy stars Smith, Ablett, and Kirke in the eighteen man squad, and is likely to get a runout according to the boss. Just nine of the side that lost to London at the Stade Aime Giral last season will be making the trip, with JJB (Quad injury) and Gareth Ellis being the two most likely to be missed by the Rhinos. The Rhinos eighteen is; 1. Richard Mathers, Scott Donald, Chev Walker, Keith Senior, Lee Smith, Danny McGuire, Rob Burrow, Ryan Bailey, Matt Diskin, Jamie Peacock, Ali Lauiti'iti, Kevin Sinfield, Shane Millard, Willie Poching, Chris Feather, Carl Ablett, Ian Kirke, Jordan Tansey. I'd expect Ablett will be the one to miss out on the final seventeen.

Adamsons side is in tatters following the loss of Stacey Jones to a broken arm at Salford. Since their stunning season opening win against Wigan, they have not managed a single league point, and were beaten comprehensively by the Bulls last week in their own back yard. The Dragons line up will be a mix of mercenary Aussies and inexperienced Frenchmen who lack the direction of their missing skipper and play maker. That is not to say that Adamson will not have rallied his troops for a massive effort, nothing will mean more to Matty than getting one over on Tony Smith, the man who denied him his moment of Grand Final glory. The Dragons side will be selected from; Beattie, Berthezene, Chan, Bosc, Dobson, Frayssinous, Fakir, Guisset, Fellous, Guigue, Hindmarsh, Murphy, Mounis, Sadaoui, Rudder, Verges, Wilson, Rinaldi, Teixido, and Touxagas.

A good win for Leeds over our country cousins last week will have bolstered confidence after the Saints defeat, and we'll be looking to build on tha with a more professional performance than we turned in at this stadium last summer. As far as the Rhinos fans are concerned, congas are banned!

Three Frenchies to watch;


Frayssinous

Fakir

Guisset

You can't underplay the enormity of the Dragons opening day win over the Warriors. In that match they showed that they can mix it with the best, and that they have some great big bruising forwards who won't take any prisoners. We will need to be at the top of our game to ensure that we compete in the forwards and give our backs a chance to shine. With dry conditions it could be a chance for Smith, returning after injury, and Donald to fill there boots, and don't discount a Walker hat-trick for the second week running.

After issuing plenty of warnings over what will happen if we are not at the top of our game, I still think that we'll give the Catalans a bit of a thrashing, exceeding the bookies twenty-six point handicap.

Southstander.com Prediction
Dragons 12 44 Rhinos

The Dragons have had fantastic attendances for their opening two home fixtures with 11,000 there for the warriors fixture, and 9,373 there last week for the Bulls game. Lets hope that the local novelty has not worn off with last weeks thumping, and that we get to help generate a fantastic atmosphere.

The forcast if for dry, if not so warm, weather for the match with just a 20% chance of rain. The sun sets at 18:50 so the majority of the match will be played under floodlights.

There are just a few more hours to get your predictions in in the tipping competition. Details on an after match party, and a barbecue tonight (friday) are on the messageboard.

If your going to France, have a very safe trip and see you there. If you aren't, I'll try and get a match report up on sunday evening!

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