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Rhinos make case for defence
Dragons pay the price for errors as they are well beaten on the road
Catalan Dragons are still waiting for their first Super League win at Headingley after they were comfortably beaten 34-18 by Leeds.
Ben Jones-Bishop bagged a brace of tries while Shaun Lunt, a midweek recruit from Huddersfield on a deal until the end of the season, marked his Rhinos debut with a second-half score.
What was most impressive about the win, however, were the efforts by the reigning champions without the ball, suggesting they are now well and truly over a recent blip in form that saw them lose three games in a row.
Since the derby defeat to Bradford, Brian McDermott's men have won their last three, the latest success coming even with Rob Burrow on the sidelines.
The Dragons were missing key men too, and without full-back options Clint Greenshields and Thomas Bosc their depleted backline was given a good working over, none more so than young winger Damien Cardace.
The hero when he grabbed four tries on debut against Widnes, Cardace was very much the villain of the piece for the Perpignan club on Friday night against a Rhinos team that targeted him from the start.
He fluffed his lines when Kevin Sinfield stuck up a huge kick towards his flank, failing to get off the floor and therefore allowing Jones-Bishop to jump in front of him to claim the ball and finish.
At least Cardace did get airborne when the ball was next booted in his direction, only this time he couldn't take the catch to give away possession. The error was soon punished, Leeds working a lovely move straight from the scrum that saw Brent Webb put Ryan Hall in at the left corner.
Sinfield added both conversions and with Leeds scoring 12 points in as many minutes, the Dragons looked in danger of suffering a hiding away from home.
To their credit, Trent Robinson's troops responded by piling on the pressure at the other end of the field. They forced set after set as they pinned their opponents back towards their own line, though the Rhinos didn't help themselves by twice giving away penalties for blocking runners.
Eventually the pressure finally paid off, Leeds being breached when Scott Dureau and Leon Pryce combined to put Louis Anderson through a gap.
Yet after working so hard to get a foothold back in the contest, the Dragons shot themselves in the foot with Menzies knocking on in the next set, leading to Jones-Bishop squeezing over out wide for his second try of the night.
They also gifted their hosts another score early in the second half, Cyril Stacul making a mess of a kick on his line to give Zak Hardaker his 11th, and surely easiest, try of the campaign from no more than a inch or two out.
Menzies did finish off a Pryce burst to get the Dragons on the board again, while the veteran forward then had another effort chalked off correctly by referee Ben Thaler for a double movement.
However Leeds refused to allow their opponents any breathing space, Lunt darting over from dummy-half to cap a fine personal display before the sizeable presence of Ryan Bailey barged his way in from close range.
Former Bradford stand-off Pryce did have the final say, picking up a loose ball to waltz over, but in truth his Dragons never really looked capable of ending their losing run in Leeds.
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First Utility Super League Table
|9||Hull K R||3||2|
|10||Salford Red Devils||3||2|
|First Utility Super League|
|Thursday 5th March|
|20:00||Hull FC vs Leeds Rhinos|
|Friday 6th March|
|20:00||Wakefield Wildcats vs St Helens|
|20:00||Huddersfield Giants vs Widnes Vikings|
|20:00||Castleford Tigers vs Wigan Warriors|
|Saturday 7th March|
|15:30||Catalans Dragons vs Salford Red Devils|
|Sunday 8th March|
|15:00||Warrington Wolves vs Hull K R|
|Thursday 12th March|
|20:00||Huddersfield vs Castleford|
|Friday 13th March|
|20:00||Warrington vs Leeds|
|20:00||Wigan vs Hull|
|20:00||Widnes Vikings vs St Helens|
|First Utility Super League|
|Sunday 1st March|
|Widnes Vikings 16 - 58 Wakefield Wildcats|
|Hull K R 22 - 20 Wigan Warriors|
|Saturday 28th February|
|Salford Red Devils 32 - 28 Hull FC|
|Catalans Dragons 38 - 18 Warrington Wolves|
|Friday 27th February|
|St Helens 21 - 14 Castleford Tigers|
|Thursday 26th February|
|Leeds Rhinos 28 - 24 Huddersfield Giants|
|Sunday 15th February|
|Wakefield 44 - 24 Hull K R|
|Saturday 14th February|
|Catalans Dragons 13 - 12 Castleford|
|Friday 13th February|
|Hull 6 - 7 Warrington|
|Leeds 38 - 6 Widnes|
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