The third-placed Leeds Rhinos enjoyed what was little more than an arduous training run last night as they honed their preparations for the Super League play-offs, ending the regular season with a comfortable 10-try success in an entertaining but low-intensity encounter at Headingley Carnegie. Looking to find some fluency after a disappointing run of six defeats in their past eight games, Leeds welcomed back Danny McGuire following a six-match absence with a shin splints injury.
McGuire's trademark support play saw him move to within one try of Super League's top try-scorer, the Catalans winger Justin Murphy, who earlier took his tally to 25 with a first-half touchdown. But having confirmed his successful return to fitness, McGuire then sat out the last quarter, sterner tests ahead taking preference for the Leeds coaching staff over the pursuit of individual honours.
"It was a good performance all round," said Tony Smith, the Leeds coach. "We are still licking our wounds from last week [when the Rhinos lost heavily at St Helens] but it was a good healing process. Danny came through well but missed out on his scoring feat when the nasty coach took him off. Danny has bigger things to aim for with the team and it was always the plan to take him off after 60 minutes."
Leeds' 20-year-old fullback, Jordan Tansey, took centre-stage with a first-half hat-trick, demonstrating fine support play and anticipation with two tries inside the opening 10 minutes and adding his third just before half-time. Danny Williams, Scott Donald and Gareth Ellis also went over as the home side built a 36-12 interval lead, the Dragons replying with tries from Thomas Bosc and Murphy.
Exempt from relegation while Wakefield and Castleford are left to battle it out for safety, Catalans fielded 12 French-born players in their 17, including several fringe players in the final game of an inaugural season in which they have earned a respectable eight wins but finished with the wooden spoon. They faded in the second half as Leeds posted further tries by Keith Senior, McGuire, Jamie Jones-Buchanan and Williams.
To Smith's satisfaction, the Rhinos kept a clean sheet after the interval as they geared up for their home play-off tie against either Salford or Warrington next Friday.
Leeds Rhinos: Tansey; Donald, Toopi. Senior, Williams; McGuire, Burrow; Scruton, Diskin, Jones-Buchanan, Kirke, Ellis, Sinfield. Substitutes used: Millard, Thackray, Lauitiiti, Bailey.
Catalans Dragons: Bosc; Murphy, Khattabi, Sadaoui, Verges; Frayssinous, Jones; Griffi, Berthezene, Fellous, Guisset, Mounis, Hindmarsh. Substitutes used: Fakir, Chan, Beattie, Touxagas.
Referee: K Kirkpatrick (Warrington).Reuse content