Leeds Rhinos 4-10 Catalans Dragons: Highlights, player ratings and major talking points

On a bitterly cold night, Leeds suffered a third consecutive defeat as Catalans edged a battle royale 10-4.

Neither side shone in attack, but both showed grit in a brutal contest. The Dragons can be happy that despite a sluggish start to the year they have two wins whilst Leeds may be starting to get concerned still without a win.

Highlights:

Juggling Austin

Last week Leeds were on the receiving end of a bizarre try when Jai Field capitalised on an error that turned into an opportunity to get Wigan on the scoreboard. It would proved to be a match turning moment and derail the Rhinos. However, this week it was Leeds scoring the unusual try when Blake Austin juggled to score. It was Austin’s second try in two games for the Rhinos but it’s perhaps telling of Leeds’ attack at the start of 2022 that that was their only try of the game.

Typical Tomkins

Leeds enjoyed the wealth of possession and territory in the first 45 minutes yet by the 50 minute mark they were behind. That was due in part to Catalans’ ability to create from anywhere within Leeds’ half. Much of that was orchestrated by Sam Tomkins who played a pivotal role in the Dragons’ key leveller at the end of the first half. He ran the show for the Dragons before going off.

Major Talking Points:

1. Unusual Dragons pack steps up
Catalans’ lack of props at the moment has been well documented. With Gil Dudson and Dylan Napa serving long term bans and Mickael Goudemand and Julian Bousquet injured, Steve McNamara’s options up front were limited so he elected to start backrower Mike McMeeken at prop. The former Cas man stood up down the middle and was supported by backrowers Benjamin Jullien and Matt Whitley. Meanwhile, Joe Chan came on and did a good job at prop whilst Sam Kasiano provided some touches of class – including a lovely assist for Chan’s try – to help the Dragons middles match a Rhinos pack with their first choice front row intact. It is worth mentioning that Leeds did play the game with 16 men following a worrying injury to Alex Mellor who was sadly stretchered off.

2. Two titans caught in the cold
In the opinion of many, Leeds and Catalans have sides capable of pushing for Super League glory in 2022. On paper both look formidable but going into tonight’s game, neither had really gotten going in the league perhaps down to the need to embed a new halfback pairing. Tonight in the cold, both teams felt as though they were still finding their feet. They both looked very good down the middle and bought territory nicely, but it seems their attacks may still be finding their identity and it showed tonight. Still early days, both may yet evolve into real title challengers as they settle into the season. Time will tell.

3. Myler the missing piece
It was confirmed this week that Leeds fullback Richie Myler faces 10 weeks on the sidelines and in tonight’s game the Rhinos sorely missed him. I thought Jack Walker played well coming up with two early trysavers and he always looked like he was full of energy. But Leeds’ attack seemed to be missing a beat and it appears Myler’s absence may be why. He was directly involved in over 20 tries last year including 16 assists and was mesmeric in pre-season. Without his link-up Leeds are struggling to score and that’s why they came up short tonight.

Player Ratings:

Leeds Rhinos
1 Jack Walker – 7
29 Liam Tindall – 7
20 Tom Briscoe – 7
4 Liam Sutcliffe – 6
5 Ash Handley – 7
6 Blake Austin – 6
7 Aidan Sezer – 6
8 Mikolaj Oledzki – 7
9 Kruise Leeming – 7
10 Matt Prior – 7
21 Morgan Gannon – 6
15 Alex Mellor -N/A
13 Zane Tetevano – 7
Substitutes
14 Brad Dwyer – 6
17 Cameron Smith – 6
19 Bodene Thompson – 6
24 Jarrod O’Connor – 6

Catalans Dragons
29 Sam Tomkins – 7
2 Tom Davies – 7
4 Dean Whare – 7
3 Samisoni Langi – 7
5 Fouad Yaha – 7
6 Mitchell Pearce – 6
7 Josh Drinkwater – 6
23 Jordan Dezaria – 7
9 Michael McIlorum – 6
12 Mike McMeeken – 8
11 Matt Whitley – 7
15 Benjamin Jullien – 8
13 Ben Garcia – 7
Substitutes
16 Paul Seguier – 6
20 Tyrone May – 6
27 Joe Chan – 8
28 Sam Kasiano – 8

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