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Super League: Leeds Rhinos coach Brian McDermott sings praises of Kevin Sinfield
We said that if we just live with them for the first 30 minutes then we should have some opportunities at the end of the first half. It pretty much went to script but, for that to happen, we had to be very, very tough.
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Leeds coach Brian McDermott felt his side had to come through a tough first 30 minutes to lay the platform for their 40-12 triumph over Catalan Dragons.
The in-form Rhinos scored seven tries in Perpignan to maintain their perfect start to the new Super League season, winger Ryan Hall bagging two of them.
However it was Kevin Sinfield was the star turn for the visitors, the England skipper managing 16 points having seemingly been set to miss the match earlier in the week due to an ankle injury.
"We planned for that being a tough fixture, but we also appreciated that Catalan have got a lot of key members of their team missing from their team," he said.
"We said that if we just live with them for the first 30 minutes then we should have some opportunities at the end of the first half. It pretty much went to script but, for that to happen, we had to be very, very tough.
"Credit should go to both teams in the first half. Catalan scored a great, early set-piece try and it was a massive contest for half an hour. I thought we looked for too much, especially in the second half, and we got a bit scrappy."
McDermott was full of praise for Sinfield, who had been forced off in the closing stages of Leeds' home win over Warrington in the previous round and initially seemed set to be sidelined for a fortnight at least.
"I thought Kevin Sinfield was going to have two weeks off after his ankle injury last week, but it's remarkable what can happen with medicine and you have to give Kevin a lot of credit," the coach said.
"He did everything he possibly could to make sure he would be ready for this game and, to top that, he was instrumental in the game."
Catalan coach Laurent Frayssinous admitted the hosts, without a plethora of first-team players through injury and suspension, simply could not compete.
He said: "It was a tough game for us against very good opposition. Leeds were too good for us tonight, it seemed like England versus France at times.
"They strangled us with their last play. They are pretty good at that and have been good at that for many years, with Danny McGuire and Kevin Sinfield.
"Unfortunately, we couldn't do that when we were attacking their line and that is why they have won so many finals in recent years."
Their cause wasn't helped by two more casualties, with Daryl Millard having to pull out just before kick-off and Ian Henderson forced off in the first half.
"I thought we tried hard, but unfortunately it wasn't good enough, especially on the last play," Frayssinous added.
"Injuries unfortunately hit us hard again. We lost Daryl Millard before the game and Ian Henderson just before half-time with a broken radius. We have another eight players out though injury or suspension, so we're doing it tough at the moment."
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First Utility Super League Table
|5||Hull K R||0||0|
|7||Salford Red Devils||0||0|
|First Utility Super League|
|Thursday 5th February|
|20:00||Widnes vs Wigan|
|Friday 6th February|
|20:00||St Helens vs Catalans Dragons|
|Saturday 7th February|
|15:00||Warrington vs Salford|
|Sunday 8th February|
|15:00||Huddersfield vs Hull|
|15:00||Hull K R vs Leeds|
|15:30||Castleford vs Wakefield|
|Thursday 12th February|
|20:00||Salford vs St Helens|
|Friday 13th February|
|20:00||Hull vs Warrington|
|20:00||Leeds vs Widnes|
|20:00||Wigan vs Huddersfield|
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