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Leeds Rhinos 32-22 Catalans Dragons: Highlights, player ratings and talking points

Catalans Dragons’ unbeaten start to the season is over after Leeds Rhinos turned on the style in what was perhaps the best game of the season and certainly one of the most controversial.

Highlights:

Sensational Davies finishes
It didn’t take Catalans long to get on the board. The French side earned a penalty for a head high tackle and worked the ball down field. Then a neat short side play saw Davies have an inch of space to work in and he used it producing a perfect finish with the majority of his body out of the field. There has been a lot of talk about Tom Johnstone to start the season but Davies is just as good.

Leeds hit back with off the cuff rugby
The Rhinos are at their best when they do the unexpected and that’s what they did coming out of their own end with Blake Austin kicking early for Rhyse Martin down the left to break away. From there, a superb long ball from Cameron Smith found Harry Newman who went in to make it 6-4.

More kicking chaos
Suddenly Leeds were in front after another brilliant Austin kick wasn’t dealt Davies. Martin picked up the ball and kicked ahead beating Arthur Mourgue to ground the ball as confirmed by the video referee.

Windy day in Leeds
Rhyse Martin rarely misses two attempts at goal in a row but today he did. The second one was destined to go over but it was caught in the wind and brought back but the wind did help Leeds when it took the kick off out on the full.

Inches away
Leeds nearly turned that into more points when Martin found MacDonald down the left and he jinked round his man trying to squeeze in the corner but he just ran out of room with the video ref finding that MacDonald was in touch before the ball was grounded.

Newman misses big chance
Leeds again came close to scoring when a lovely Aidan Sezer grubber kick was perfectly weighted for Newman to chase but he just couldn’t pick it up from his boot laces.

Rhinos rue missed chances as Keighran goes over
After those missed chance it was Catalans’ turn to attack and they turned it into points. Again on the last tackle they stripped Leeds for numbers with Keighran finding just enough space to get on the outside of Newman and score.

Tetevano try saver
Leeds were under pressure as Catalans looked for a third try and as Mike McMeeken received the ball in space, he looked destined for a try until Zane Tetevano hit with with a thunderous tackle.

Controversial Catalans try
Catalans did eventually get their try though Leeds players and fans were adamant Pearce was short and perhaps he was but the video referee ruled that his momentum was still going and that he had grounded the ball after contact.

Leeds disallowed try
Leeds thought they had pulled a try back when Tetevano was put into space and barged over Pearce but the try was disallowed for a forward pass.

Another controversial Catalans score
You have to credit the Catalans defence for their attitude here but also it brings into light one of the problems with the six again rule. The Dragons were happy to give away the six again and reset their defence allowing them to swarm Rhyse Martin. Martin tried to offload it as a goal line drop out loomed and the Dragons pounced.

Newman binned as tempers boil over
The Rhinos were frustrated by the slow ruck speed at the second half so when Harry Newman was penalised for lying in the ruck he wasn’t happy and let Liam Moore know and was subsequently sin binned.

Rhinos get one back
Leeds got a try back after a brilliant Blake Austin break, Aidan Sezer bust through and found Richie Myler in support.

Kruise who?
Leeds meant business at the start of the second half as Rhyse Martin made a sublime break and a Blake Austin forced a goal line drop out. Then Jarrod O’Connor scored a classic hooker’s try darting over from dummy half making the loss of Kruise Leeming look less impactful.

Another missed chance for Leeds
A brilliant MacDonald break saw Leeds head down field again and then they came back right where Harry Newman looked to have scored but a foot in touch was spotted by the linesman.

Olpherts over
The Rhinos had all the momentum and they got over for yet another try after a Mike McMeeken error. MacDonald picked it up, found Austin who broke down field teeing Derrell Olpherts up for a try. Rhyse Martin remarkable missed a fifth conversion attempt from five so Leeds were still behind.

Game of the season?
Rugby league is at its best when you see sensational tries from distance but also when you see two teams putting their bodies on their line again and again and that’s what we saw today. A splash of controversy also helps and this was the perfect advert for rugby league on free to air TV.

Magic MacDonald
The focus may be on Harry Newman and his two tries but Nene MacDonald was destructive all game especially jumping out of attacking half in his own end of the field. Rhyse Martin, though he had a nightmare with the boot was also brilliant at getting Leeds on the front foot.

Jarrod the man
If any Leeds fan was worried about whether Jarrod O’Connor was the man to take Leeds forward at nine, the second half today showed that he certainly is. He bossed things with a quick ruck in the second half and that led Leeds to the win.

Super League’s six again problem
The six again rule has been talked about a lot recently especially after Phil Clarke’s comments about St Helens. However, we saw the biggest problem with the rule today as Catalans scored after giving away one. It is something that needs addressing.

Where was this Leeds side last week?
When Leeds play like this they are a joy to watch. They are quick with the ball and almost unpredictable. Their problem is consistency. Had they shown this last week they’d have beaten Castleford.

Player Ratings:

Leeds Rhinos
1 Richie Myler – 8
4 Nene MacDonald – 9
12 Rhyse Martin – 9
3 Harry Newman – 8
2 David Fusitu’a – 8
6 Blake Austin – 8
7 Aidan Sezer – 8
22 Sam Walters – 7
14 Jarrod O’Connor – 9
18 Tom Holroyd – 8
19 James McDonnell – 7
10 Zane Tetevano – 7
13 Cameron Smith – 8
Substitutes
15 Sam Lisone – 8
16 Derrell Olpherts – 7
17 Justin Sangare – 7
26 Corey Johnson – 7

Catalans Dragons
1 Arthur Mourgue – 7
2 Tom Davies – 8
3 Adam Keighran – 8
19 Arthur Romano – 7
24 Tom Johnstone – 7
6 Tyrone May – 8
7 Mitchell Pearce – 7
8 Mike McMeeken – 7
9 Michael McIlorum – 7
10 Julian Bousquet – 7
26 Manu Ma’u – 8
11 Matt Whitley – 7
13 Ben Garcia – 8
Substitutes
14 Alrix Da Costa – 7
15 Mickael Goudemand – 7
23 Jordan Dezaria – 7
12 Paul Seguier – 7

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