Catalans Dragons v Leeds Rhinos: Where the game will be won - form, strengths and a prediction

Leeds Rhinos are back in France on Saturday, for the second time in three weekends.

The clash with Catalans Dragons in Perpignan is a big one for Rhinos’ Betfred Super League top-six hopes.

Catalans are third in the table and on a five-game winning run against Rhinos, but Leeds go into the match full of confidence after last week’s defeat of Wigan Warriors and with some key men back.

Here’s where the game will be won and lost.

Matt Prior, pictured scoring against Castleford Tigers at Magic Weekend, is back in Rhinos' squad. Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com.

Form: Ninth-placed Rhinos have won three of their last four games. The defeat was in France, at Toulouse, two weeks ago, but Hull, Castleford Tigers and Wigan were all in the top six so Leeds will feel they are now competing on the same level as some of the leading sides. Catalans are third and on the back of a dramatic, last-minute 13-12 win over Huddersfield Giants last week. They have shown signs of frailty recently, losing four of their six games since the start of June.

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Players missing: Catalans welcome back Michael McIlorum and Fouad Yaha into their initial squad, but have some big names missing including Dylan Napa, Tyrone May, Matthieu Laguerre, Benjamin Garcia, Tom Davies, Julian Bousquet, Matt Whitley, Mike McMeeken and Jordan Dezaria. Matt Prior is available for Rhinos after a two-game ban and Aidan Sezer could return following a hand injury. Blake Austin, Kruise Leeming, Tom Briscoe, Zane Tetevano, Tom Holroyd and Sam Walters are all unavailable, along with youngster Max Simpson.

Scoring power: Both teams have scored 405 points in 20 league matches this year. Rhinos have a slight edge in terms of tries scored, 71 to Dragons’ 69.

Fouad Yaha, pictured scoring against Rhinos at Headingley this season, returns for Catalans. Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com.

Defence: Catalans have conceded 317 points in the league, compared with 390 by Rhinos.

Super League head to head: Rhinos have won 23, Catalans won 16. Leeds haven’t won in Perpignan since 2017 and are on a five-match losing run against the French side.

Match winner: For Catalans it could be full-back Sam Tomkins, whose drop goal snatched the points last week. Richie Myler could make the difference for Leeds.

Overview: Catalans have a big pack and, despite Prior’s return, that could give them an edge, though Rhinos’ middle players have done a good job in most of their recent games. Catalans are closer to full strength in the pivotal positions, but Leeds can match them if the halves get the ball out wide.

Rhinos can cause Catalans problems if they get the ball wide to players like Harry Newman. Picture by Jonathan Gawthorpe.

Prediction: Rhinos don’t have a good recent record in France and most of the stats favour a narrow win for Catalans, particularly with McIlorum back, but Leeds will travel with more confidence than they would a month ago.