Super League: Leeds Rhinos thrash Catalans Dragons 48-8 to edge clear of danger
|Betfred Super League|
|Leeds (16) 48|
|Tries: Handley 2, Myler 2, Lui, Briscoe, Martin Goals: Martin 10|
|Catalans (8) 8|
|Tries: Goudemand Goals: Gigot 2|
Resurgent Leeds Rhinos climbed four points clear of trouble in Super League as they ran in seven tries to hammer top five hopefuls Catalans Dragons.
Leeds led only 16-8 at the break but, despite Brad Singleton's straight red card for a high shot on the influential Sam Kasiano, inspired by Rhyse Martin, Leeds crossed five more times.
Prolific winger Ash Handley and Richie Myler scored two tries each.
Rob Lui, Luke Briscoe and Martin, who kicked 10 goals, got the other tries.
Martin's 10 out of 10 haul with the boot was impressive enough, but the Papua New Guinea international's powerful burst from the halfway line for Rhinos' second try was the stand-out moment.
Leeds also had centre Konrad Hurrell sin-binned for a dangerous tackle. And the game could have been in the balance when Rhinos were again reduced to 12 men when Singleton was sent off on 50 minutes.
Yet the Rhinos went on to score three tries in a decisive 13-minute spell - and their defence held firm too. They have now conceded just one try in their last two matches.
Handley celebrated his new three-year contract with a doof the Rhinos' seven tries, taking his tally for the season to 19, and former Catalans scrum-half Richie Myler also touched down twice against his old club.
Catalans had Kenny Edwards, Mika Simon and Brayden Wiliame available following successful appeals against suspension following last weekend's ugly encounter with Warrington in Perpignan.
But, although Mickael Goudemand scored their only try in a late first-half revival from being 16-0 down, supplemented by two goals from Tony Gigot, they were badly weakened by the loss of Sam Tomkins - so often a thorn in Leeds' side.
The England full-back was starting his three-game ban, while fellow former Wigan man Micky McIlorum was also suspended.
Steve McNamara's men remain fifth on 26 points, in a tight tussle for the remaining four places still up for grabs in the end-of-season top five. Still only six points separate second-placed Warrington from seventh-placed Castleford.
Leeds coach Richard Agar:
"I was confident we could manage the one sin-binning but a sending-off can go one of two ways. I didn't see that coming - we had the luxury of making a couple of substitutions to save blokes for next week.
"It did galvanise us. Everybody dug in and played that bit harder and the crowd really helped equalise those numbers. It's inspiring for our guys to receive that support."
"It's one week at a time until it's mathematically impossible. We've got some good sides to play but I think we're travelling alright.
"I don't think I'm dealing with a squad that is fearful of relegation, we're getting better every week. We've conceded one try in two games and there were some big efforts when we were down to 12 men.
Catalans coach Steve McNamara:
"This has happened to us on numerous occasions. It's quite clearly hugely disappointing. The game was there, They had a man sent off, yet it looked like we were the ones who'd had a man sent off. We never competed after that point.
"Credit to Leeds, who were really good, but the last 25 minutes was really tough for everybody involved. We were still in with a chance but, once the scoreboard went against us, we stopped.
"We're playing in fits and starts and, when it goes against us, we separate from each other and it's hard to take. It's our Achilles heel right now, that's quite clear to see.
"We are still in the fight in terms of the league table but to compete for a competition you have to be able to perform every weekend and we haven't managed to do that."
Leeds: Walker; L Briscoe, Hurrell, Newman, Handley; Lui, Myler; Seumanufagai, Lunt, Cuthbertson, Ferres, Martin, Merrin.
Interchanges: Dwyer, Sutcliffe, Donaldson, Singleton.
Sin Bin: Hurrell (40).
Sent Off: Singleton (51).
Catalans Dragons: Gigot; Mead, Romano, Wiliame, Tierney; Bird, Langi; Bousquet, Da Costa, Simon, Edwards, Whitley, Casty.
Interchanges: Goudemand, Albert, Maria, Kasiano.
Sin Bin: Mead (72).
Referee: Rob Hicks (RFL).