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Rhinos Slain by Dragons
Posted by southstander on February 27 2007 - 13:56:49

Best Performer
By Phil Caplan

While your webmaster took the opportunity for an early season holiday in Cuba, the boys travelled to Perpignan for what looked like a certain two-pointer against the Dragons. Phil Caplan sent us this report.

In the South of France and looking to hold onto their 100% record for 2007, it was always on the cards it was going to be a tougher proposition than last year with the Dragons having recruited well in the off season.

But few can have expected the outcome.

We bring you all the action here....

22

Rhinos

v

Dragons

30

SLXII - Round III

24th February 2007

Rhinos Slain by Dragons

These Dragons are a different, far more dangerous beast. Inspired by two of their new signings for 2007, outstanding hooker Aaron Gorrell and supreme option-taker Casey McGuire, Catalans produced a stunning second half fight back to deservedly claim their first victory of the season. Trailing by ten points at the break, the hosts denied the previously unbeaten Rhinos possession, space and points in the second period, their exciting, inventive, expansive play thrilling the passionate, fervent home crowd. This time last year they were awaiting the arrival of head coach Mick Potter but now his influence, along with quality recruitment is evident; Alex Chan a prime example of the transformation of the Dragons under Mick Potter, his towering performance overshadowed the Leeds pack while Jason Crocker's experience and guidance was another key victory factor. Thomas Bosc, filling in for John Wilson, provided a cultured link and skipper Gregory Mounis never stopped looking for work.

The Rhinos were ruthless on attack in the first half, posting four touchdowns inclinical fashion without ever really wresting total control. Two of them were superb individual efforts; the first courtesy of some brilliant quick thinking from Kevin Sinfield, surprisingly selected at hooker in place of the injured Matt Diskin. Taking a quick tap on his own 20, he launched the ball downfield, Scott Donald winning the chase but just being caught by Clint Greenshields. Sinfield quickly exploited the play the ball, Danny McGuire sending Jamie Jones-Buchanan over. The second piece of opportunism enfuriated the watching member of the PFU and was an early contender for try of the season. Taking the ball 40 metres out, Jamie Thackray, who made a significant contribution off the bench, twice chipped over the cover and re-gathered to claim a glorious, unexpected solo score.

Leeds suffered from the early injury losses of Ryan Bailey with a sternum injury and Danny McGuire who fractured his knuckle and the weight of defence they were forced to do in the opening half, often as a result of giving up cheap possession,ultimately told. The hosts exerted the early pressure, forcing a drop out from the first of Casey McGuire's clever range of kicks, Chan producing a brilliant bust and off load to send the supporting Bosc round Brent Webb for the opening score. Danny McGuire tracked back to deny Bosc a second before Sinfield's vision levelled. On the back of the first penalty in the 14th minute, Catalans menaced purposefully, Gorrell producing a perfectly timed short ball for Chan to power over by the posts. Gorrell and Casey McGuire forced consecutive drop outs but Rhinos scrambled well to survive for Thackray to strike.

From the kick off, Gareth Ellis's fine off load sent Jones-Buchanan storming clear and he drew the last line for Donald to stride clear for a great long range effort. Bosc produced a fine stop to deny a spinning Rob Burrow, who earned great admiration particularly from the home fans for his dynamic display, and just before the break the visitors manufactured their best attacking move. Burrow and Sinfield spread the ball; Webb's sensational long pass finding Lee Smith who went over in the corner; Sinfield's touchline conversion attempt hitting the post to send the Rhinos in to half time somehow 10 points in the lead.

Catalans struck first in the second period to establish their irresistible momentum. Clinton Toopi's forced pass handed over cheap possession and a quick response down the left saw Bosc, Greenshield's and Justin Murphy combine to put Casey McGuire over. Webb and Donald pummelled Dimitri Pelo into touch but another superbly judged Gorrell pass put Vincent Dupport across, Gorrell's fine conversion from out wide levelling at 22-all.

With 14 minutes left, Casey McGuire's kick was part charged down by Lauitiiti, it hit Bosc on the heel as he was running. The ball was hacked on by Bosc, Smith failed to gather cleanly and Pelo was on hand to dive over, the try being confirmed by video referee David Campbell to give the Dragons the lead. With Leeds forced into catch up mode, Jamie Thackray was adjudged to have caught Chan high in front of the posts and Gorrell obliged with the penalty to make the points safe. Bosc missed a field goal attempt to put the icing on the cake and the only down side for the Catalans was Gorrell being stretchered off just before the end.


Man of the Match Poll

Points
Player%
10
Burrow37%
7
Ellis21%
7
Thackray21%
4
Jones-Buchanan11%
4
Peacock11%

See here for season standings.


Match Facts

Rhinos
Dragons
No.
Player
T
G
DG
No.
Player
T
G
DG
1
Webb
1
Greenshields
2
Donald
1
2
Murphy
3
Toopi
18
Duport
1
4
Senior
4
Mogg
5
Smith
1
5
Pelo
1
6
McGuire
14
Bosc
1
7
Burrow
6
McGuire
1
16
Bailey
19
Chan
1
13
Sinfield
3
23
Gorrell
5
8
Leuleui
20
Fellous
11
Jones-Buchanan
1
11
Raguin
10
Peacock
12
Crocker
12
Ellis
13
Mounis
11
Lauiti'iti
10
Guisset
15
Thackray
1
17
Gossard
18
Kirke
8
Ferriol
23
Tansey
16
Teixido

Kick Off:
19:00
Half-Time:
22-12
Referee:
Richard Silverwood
Crowd:
7,630


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