Catalans Dragons vs Leeds Rhinos: Match Preview

Picture by Manuel Blondeau/ - 30/07/2022 - Rugby League - Betfred Super League Round 21 - Catalans Dragons v Leeds Rhinos - Stade Gilbert Brutus, Perpignan, France - Sam Kasiano of Catalans Dragons

Leeds Rhinos take on Catalans Dragons in a crucial clash that, should they win, will keep their season alive and face either St. Helens or Wigan in the Semi-finals next week.

It will be the third time in six weeks that the Rhinos have played in Perpignan, with both sides winning a game apiece.

On paper, the Dragons are the odds-on favourites to proceed to the next round, having rested their whole squad last week in preparation for the finals.

But Rohan Smith’s men have won 10 of their last 12 matches, including the dramatic comeback win against the dragons at the end of July.

Smith has named the strongest squad he can, but with Rhyse Martin suspended and an inexperienced Liam Tindall on the wing, it will be a tough task to stop Steve McNamara’s men.

If the Rhinos are to progress to the semi-finals, they will need to close down electric winger Fouad Yaha, who has scored five tries against the Rhinos this season.

Sam Tomkins will also be a key threat for Les Dracs. The reigning Man of Steel guides his team around the field like no other and was identified by Rohan Smith in his pre-match press conference as “one of the best fullbacks in the Super League era”.

The Rhinos aren’t short of star players themselves, however. Halfback pair Blake Austin and Aidan Sezer are NRL Grand Finalists with Canberra Raiders so have the experience of playing finals footy together.

Mikolaj Oledzki has also been in immense form this season, earning himself a place in the Super League Dream Team.

He has been the standout performer in an otherwise average Leeds front row this season.

Overall, it seems as though Catalans will come out victorious in this game, but Leeds have shown they can win pretty and win ugly so never say never with Rohan Smith’s men.

Despite the news of the passing of Queen Elizabeth II, this game, along with all other rugby league matches this weekend, is still going ahead. Players will observe a minute’s silence prior to kick-off and will wear black armbands during the game.

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