Leeds Rhinos v Catalans Dragons: Here's where tonight's game could be won and lost

Leeds Rhinos will go into tonight’s round three clash with Catalans Dragons still searching for their first win.

By Peter Smith
Thursday, 24th February 2022, 11:40 am

It is a big ask, with a depleted team against the 2021 Betfred Super League leaders, but the game could be won and lost in several key areas.

1: Discipline. Rhinos have picked up a red card and two yellows in their opening two matches and Catalans had a player sent-off and another sin-binned in round one. Keeping 13 men on the pitch throughout is vital, but in terms of penalties conceded, Leeds’ discipline so far has been good. Coming out on top in that department will go a long way towards winning the game.

2: Strike power. With winger David Fusitu’a and centre Harry Newman both ruled out and a doubt over another wide man, Ash Handley, Leeds have issues in their outside-backs. In Tom Davies and Fouad Yaha, Dragons have wingers who know their way to the line and get good service from strong centres Samisoni Langi and Dean Whare, so will feel they are in better shape.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

Matt Prior has made a strong start to the season. Rhinos can't afford to lose their way when he goes off. Picture by Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com.

3: Half-backs. This should be a fascinating showdown between two overseas pairings. Mitchell Pearce and Josh Drinkwater will call the shots for Catalans and Blake Austin and Aidan Sezer need to get their combination up and running. If they can play for 80 minutes like they did in the opening 20 at Wigan last week, Rhinos could have the edge.

4: Forwards. Both teams have some key pack men missing, for a variety of reasons. Catalans are without Mickael Goudemand, Julian Bousquet, Dylan Napa and Gil Dudson and Rhinos could take advantage of that, but they lost their way after the starting props went off last week and the bench - and second-rowers - will need to do better tonight.

5: Short turnaround. Rhinos played last Friday, but Catalans have had a day less preparation and also have the travel to contend with, which could favour Leeds. The stormy conditions could also suit the home team and they will get a lift from the Headingley crowd.

Support the YEP and become a subscriber today. You'll enjoy unlimited access to the latest on Leeds United, Leeds Rhinos, Castleford Tigers and Wakefield Trinity, as well as other West Yorkshire rugby league clubs. With our sports digital subscription, you'll also see fewer ads, enjoy faster load times and get exclusive content. Click here to subscribe.