Leeds Rhinos boss hails 'bravery' in defence after stunning win v Catalans, comments on sin-bins

Leeds Rhinos coach Rohan Smith hailed his side’s ‘bravery’ after they stunned Catalans Dragons 18-10 at AMT Headingley today (Saturday)
Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now

Ash Handley’s second brace of the campaign, taking his tally to five tries in three games, made the difference in a match which featured four yellow cards, including one to Rhinos’ French prop Justin Sangare. It took Rhinos 26 minutes to get into Catalans’ half, but they scored back to back tries to take a 10-0 lead.

The visitors levelled with a quarter of the match remaining, but Handley’s second try won it and Smith said: “All wins are special, but a lot of grit, teamwork and resilience went into that. We spent the first 20-30 minutes defending in our own half, some of it by our own doing, maybe overplaying our hand. But I loved the bravery of our players to play a bit of footy against a team that are rugged and very, very good defensively in the middle of the field. It wasn’t without blemish, but [I was happy with] the defence and togetherness and teamwork that went into that. I thought we looked pretty calm and composed with our goalline D [defence].”

Read More
7s, 8s and 9s in Peter Smith's Leeds Rhinos player ratings after epic victory v ...
Paul Momirovski on the attack for Leeds Rhinos against Catalans Dragons. Picture by Steve Riding.Paul Momirovski on the attack for Leeds Rhinos against Catalans Dragons. Picture by Steve Riding.
Paul Momirovski on the attack for Leeds Rhinos against Catalans Dragons. Picture by Steve Riding.
Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Rhinos led 10-2 at the break, despite having struggled to get out of their half. “That’s the way sport and the game is,” Smith added. “You only need a moment sometimes. We gave ourselves a chance to have that moment by turning up defensively. The boys did a lot of good, hard work this week in preparation for Catalans. We probably had a little patch after half-time when they were rolling us a bit, but overall, we tackled really well.”

Handley won the RFL’s try of the week award in the opening two Betfred Super League rounds and has been nominated as February’s player of the month. Smith said: “The put down for the first try was exceptional composure. The second try was great play from [Brodie] Croft and good play from Leon Ruan, he was very composed. Matt Frawley played the ball quickly and Cam Smith’s play selection was a huge play in the game. It was one of Ash’s easier tries that one, but I liked the bravery of our team to play in attack and defensively just to keep turning up for each other.”

A kick by Croft set up Handley’s first try, after he had lifted the crowd of more than 14,000 with a huge hit on Catalans half-back Theo Fages. “Some good came off the back of that, but there was a bunch of tackles where we forced the ball out,” Smith said. “Brodie came with all the fanfare about his attack, but he is a great competitor. He is tough as, he’s an exceptional professional and he showed that today. He had some nice attacking plays, but his competitiveness is outstanding.”

Four players were sin-binned in the game, one of them being Rhinos prop Justin Sangare for an alleged high tackle. Leeds already have Sam Lisone and James Donaldson suspended and Mikolaj Oledzki is injured, so they face an anxious wait for Monday’s match review panel. Smith said: “I think they were all accidents today. Personally, I don't want to see any of them sin-binned. I want to see 13 on 13. I thought they were all unfortunate.”

Smith said Rhinos got through the game with no major injury concerns and Tom Holroyd and James McDonnell both came through unscathed in their first game of the season following injury.

Related topics: