Torrential rain welcomed the Catalans Dragons to Headingley where they took on a Leeds Rhinos side which sported the best of the Leeds junior ranks with a smattering of first teamers as coach Agar kept his stars rested ahead of Saturdays Challenge Cup final.
The Rhinos had climbed to second as a result of yesterdays losses for Wigan and Warrington but any result tonight would drop the Rhinos to fourth and bolster the Dragons challenge for a top four spot and the play-offs. Neither the bookies nor the pundits gave the Rhinos any chance of a win.
Some excellent Leeds defence frustrated early Dragons attacks but on nineteen the visitors opened the scoring through Davies as he broke the Rhinos line and finally managed to get the ball down. James Maloney curled his kick inside the posts for a 6-0 lead.
Davies got his second on 27 minutes when he spun out of an attempted tackle to dab the ball down by the corner flag after taking a long pass. Maloney was unable to add the extras from the touchline.
A ninety-metre interception try from Rhys Evans got the Rhinos on the board on the half hour as the youngster went downfield and outpaced the chasing tacklers to dive over next to the uprights. As Jarrod O’Connor added the conversion, the Rhinos youngsters were holding on to the Dragons shirt tails and still in the game heading towards half time.
Tempers boiled over on thirty-five with Davies getting a telling off from referee Hicks for running in to the incident. But it didn’t affect the Dragons winger as he added his third try just three minutes later, taking simple pass to slide over in the corner. Maloney added the conversion for a 16-6 half time lead.
Liam Tindall was held up centimetres from the line after a fantastic run ignited the second half. Two quick set restarts were followed by a penalty with Sam Kasiano sin-binned for a professional foul under the sticks but the Rhinos couldn’t make them pay.
The Dragons further extended their lead through Fouad Yaha after he took a long pass from Josh Drinkwater to go in on fifty-three. Maloney added the conversion for 22-6 as the Dragons edged towards victory.
Five minutes from time Arthur Mourgue managed to score after wrongfooting his tackler in a one-on-one situation. Maloney was again accurate with the boot to seal a 28-6 win.
Yaha scored a sixth Dragons try after the final hooter has sounded after he collected a Rhinos kick and went downfield to get the four-pointer. Maloney added the conversion from the touchline for a final score of 34-6.
With the side that the Rhinos elected to field it was always going to be a one-sided affair, and it was almost a foregone conclusion that it would be the Catalans Dragons who would take the points. All credit to a very young and inexperienced Rhinos squad who ran their blood to water and caused the French side plenty of problems in keeping the score line at a manageable level. Steve McNamara’s side still very much in the race for a top four finish.
Leeds Rhinos: Walker, Tindall, Evans (T), Sutcliffe A, Briscoe L, Broadbent, McLelland, Cuthbertson, O’Connor (G), Ferres, Thompson, Walters, Harrison. Subs: Hall, Mustapha, McConnell, Whiteley.
Catalans Dragons: Tomkins S, Davies (3T), Romano, Folau, Yaha (2T), Maloney (4G), Drinkwater, Bousquet, McIlorum, Moa, Whitley, Tomkins J, Garcia. Subs: Casty, Baitieri, Mourgue (T), Kasiano (SB on 44).
Referee: Rob Hicks.
Half Time: 6-16.
Full Time: 6-34.
Venue: Emerald Headingley, Leeds.