Rugby: Rhinos target danger man Paul

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The Independent Online
THE Australian forward Jamie Mathiou is hoping to get the better of his best man when Leeds Rhinos take on the reigning Super League champions, Bradford Bulls, at Odsal tomorrow.

Mathiou, 25, signed from North Queensland Cowboys 15 months ago, is looking forward to getting to grips with New Zealand prop Tahi Reihana in a match that could attract Super League's first 20,000 crowd.

"Tahi was best man at my wedding and we go back a long way, so it would be nice to put one over on him," joked Mathiou.

"I played with Danny Peacock many years ago at the Gold Coast and he'll be a big threat to us. But if we can contain him and Robbie Paul, I feel we can do it."

Matthew Elliott, Bradford's coach, has pinpointed the Rhinos as genuine Grand Final contenders, and accepts that his team will need to improve on their performance against Huddersfield in last week's Super League opener if the Bulls are to make it seven successive wins over their big local rivals.

"We were solid against Huddersfield without being great," said Elliott, whose side overcame the Giants 38-8 at the McAlpine Stadium. "We'll need to play better than last Friday to take the points against Leeds.

"I went to their game last Sunday and saw features of Leeds' play that haven't been there in recent years. They seem to have a bit more shape and direction. They also have a lot of enthusiasm and aggression in their team at present. It will be a bigger challenge than it has been in recent years."

The Leeds coach, Graham Murray, was delighted with his side's 30-8 opening win over Warrington, and also sees the highly rated Kiwi Paul as the main threat to his side tomorrow.

"They're a very powerful side and that's the way they play the game," said Murray. "Even their wingers are very big, but we'd like to think we'll match them in those areas.

"The forwards as a group are powerful, but you don't have to be too clever to work out Robbie Paul's one of their main strengths, and that Danny Peacock's very dangerous, as is Shaun Edwards when he comes on.

"They have a pretty good all-round balance. But if you had to mark someone out of the game, it would have to be Robbie Paul."

l In yesterday's First Division action, Swinton Lions survived an impressive second-half fightback by Leigh Centurions to emerge 32-22 winners.

Paul Barrow (two), Peter Cannon, Sean Casey and Steve Gartland all scored tries for the Lions, with Gartland also converting three.

Barrow second row Gareth Kerr ran in four tries to help his side beat Workington 26-10 in the Second Division.