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3 days ago
Stobart Super League XVII Play-Offs Week 2 review by Simon Reuben
Reigning Super League Champions Leeds Rhinos moved within 80-minutes of Old Trafford as they claimed a hard fought win over Catalan Dragons at The Gilbert Brutus Stadium in Perpignan.
It was winner takes all as the Stobart Super League Play-Off series arrived at the sudden death semi-final stages.
After suffering a humiliating defeat at Wigan seven days earlier, the Dragons needed to make home advantage count, having only lost twice during the regular season.
For the play-off kings Leeds Rhinos it was time to revenge last months defeat on the same ground as they looked to continue their defence of their Premiership as the Grand Final got even closer.
And the French outfit made the liveliest with the departing Clint Greenshields opening the scoring from close range on eight minutes. The Rhinos gradually got a foothold in the game and had a Ben Jones-Bishop try chalked off by the video referee.
On 34 minutes teenager Stevie Ward was on hand to open the visitors account and moments later a break by second rower Jamie Jones-Buchanan led to the supporting Shaun Lunt crossing. Kevin Sinfield added both conversions to put his side into a 12-4 lead.
However, the Dragons cut the deficit to just two in the last minute of the first half when right winger Damien Blanch intercepted a pass by Danny McGuire and raced the length of the field to score.
With their tails up and the backing off the vociferous home crowd, Blanch then put Catalan back in front eight minutes into the second half after collecting Dureau's pinpoint kick to the corner.
Trailing 14-12 with just over fifteen minutes left, Leeds showed their play-off credentials and seized control by adding two tries in as many minutes. Carl Ablett touched down Sinfield's grubber kick and McGuire scored his 201st Super League try after supporting an amazing 50-metre break from forward Ryan Bailey.
Sinfield's fourth goal made it 24-14 but the Dragons would not go away and after receiving a string of penalties Thomas Bosc took Greenshields pass to score next to the posts. Scott Dureau made it a four point ball game by adding the extras.
The Champions increased the lead to 26-20 as the every reliable Sinfield added a vital penalty goal on 72 minutes. It the all over for Catalan shortly later as McGuire scraped over a drop goal.
So for the outgoing Dragons Coach Trent Robinson it