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- Super League
- Preliminary Semi-Final
- 21st Sep 2012
- KO 19:45
- Att: 11,523
Rhinos charge gathers pace
Champions move to within one win of a return to Old Trafford
Leeds remain in the hunt to retain their Super League title after battling their way to a 27-20 victory over Catalan in the south of France.
The play-off specialists had just too much knockout know-how for the Dragons, who suffered only their second defeat of the season on their home turf.
The Rhinos were behind on the hour mark before a close-range try from Carl Ablett nudged them ahead and they hung on to move to within one win of a return to Old Trafford.
The Dragons had suffered a record defeat in the first round of the play-offs at Wigan last week but looked a different side from the outset at Stade Gilbert Brutus.
They went ahead on just four minutes after Jamie Peacock's high shot gifted them field position and Clint Greenshields evaded three tacklers as he squirmed his way over.
Leeds were under the cosh for most of the opening half hour but atoned for a a series of penalties with some outstanding defence inside their own 20.
They finally got their chance to hit back on 34 minutes after Ian Henderson knocked-on and Gregory Mounis was penalised for holding down, Shaun Lunt's short pass sending teenager Stevie Ward crashing over. Kevin Sinfield added the extras and Leeds led 6-4.
That lead was 12-4 just a minute later after Rob Burrow's pass sent Jamie Jones-Buchanan racing up the middle and Lunt was on hand to take the pass and stroll in.
But the momentum swung once again on the stroke of half time. With Leeds pressing for another try, Damien Blanch took the gamble and came out of the line to intercept Danny McGuire's long pass and race 90 metres to score. Scott Dureau added the extras and it was a two-point game at the half.
The Dragons edged ahead eight minutes into the scond half as Gregory Mounis' offload and Dureau's crossfield kick set up Blanch for a brilliant take and score in the corner.
Back roared Leeds just past the hour as Sinfield's grubber from dummy half was touched down by Ablett.
From the kick-off Ryan Bailey charged and barged his way fully 60 metres before offloading to McGuire who raced in unopposed.
Still the Dragons were not done and after winning possession from their short kick-off, quick hands put Thomas Bosc in.
Catalan were pressing for a go-ahead score when Jamal Fakir foolishly raised an elbow as he charged the line, givng Leeds a chance to relieve the pressure.
Moments later the French forward gave away another penalty for a high shot and Sinfied's kick stretched the lead to six. An enthralling contest was over when McGuire knocked over a late drop-goal.
Leeds head home still hoping to repeat last year's feat of lifting the title from fifth place, although they will have to win at either Wigan or St Helens to earn a return to the Grand Final.
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Mini Rhino says...
Ferocious game with both sides tackling hard, Catalan seem to throw everything at the Leeds side in the first 40 but lost energy towards the end. Leeds are still the best side in super league when it comes down to crunch games, would Wigan really want to pick us??? Old Trafford here we come again!!!!
Posted 09:22 22nd September 2012
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Super League Table
|9||Hull K R||22||20|
|11||Salford Red Devils||22||17|
|13||Bradford Bulls *||22||4|
|Thursday 31st July|
|20:00||Wigan vs Salford|
|Friday 1st August|
|20:00||Hull vs St Helens|
|20:00||Catalan Dragons vs Warrington|
|20:00||Leeds vs Bradford|
|Sunday 3rd August|
|15:00||Widnes vs Hull K R|
|15:00||Wakefield vs Huddersfield|
|15:30||Castleford vs London Broncos|
|Thursday 14th August|
|20:00||Hull K R vs Wigan|
|Friday 15th August|
|20:00||Salford vs Catalan Dragons|
|20:00||Warrington vs Castleford|
|Sunday 27th July|
|Huddersfield 38 - 16 Catalan Dragons|
|Bradford 16 - 8 Wigan|
|Warrington 26 - 40 Wakefield|
|Saturday 26th July|
|London Broncos 10 - 62 Hull K R|
|Friday 25th July|
|Salford 18 - 22 Leeds|
|St Helens 44 - 22 Widnes|
|Thursday 24th July|
|Hull 18 - 18 Castleford|
|Sunday 20th July|
|Hull K R 18 - 38 Salford|
|Huddersfield 52 - 26 Bradford|
|Saturday 19th July|
|Catalan Dragons 40 - 6 Wakefield|
Read the thoughts and opinions of Stevo with skysports.com