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Catalans entertain Leeds in basement battle this Saturday

Nobody in Perpignan or Leeds could have expected this fixture to be a bottom of the table clash a few weeks ago. As we head into the third round of Super League, beaten World Club Challengers Leeds Rhinos face a difficult journey to fellow strugglers Catalans Dragons at their home in the South of France.

While the beleaguered champions were on the wrong end of a heavy defeat from Aussie premiers North Queensland Cowboys, Laurent Frayssinous’ Dragons have had plenty of time to address the concerns raised in their defeats against Wigan and Hull FC and will be raring to go against Leeds on Saturday. In an interview with L’Indépendant, Frayssinous spoke of specific areas of improvement he had identified in their opening fixtures and focussed on with his players. “Intensity, defence and aggression are areas we identified as priorities” he said.

Frayssinous makes two changes to the squad that lost to Hull FC, with new signings Willie Mason and Jodie Broughton both set to make their debuts for the Dragons. Fouad Yaha and Antoni Maria make way for the newcomers. Skipper Remi Casty and Paul Aiton remain absent through injury.

Opposite number Brian McDermott, meanwhile, is without suspended prop Mitch Garbutt, who begins a two game ban following his red card in the World Club Challenge. The loss of another experienced head is the last thing McDermott needs and he has turned to his junior players to step up in France.

Talented prop Jordan Baldwinson and Mitch Achurch join the squad for the trip to Perpignan. Academy product Sam Hallas is also included, the 19-year-old called up for the first time since joining the Rhinos two years ago.

Captain Danny McGuire, Beau Falloon, Stevie Ward and Tom Briscoe are among Leeds long list of injured absentees. Winless in Super League and well beaten by the Cowboys, the Rhinos are reeling and face a determined Dragons side fresh off a ten day break at the Stade Gilbert Brutus. In their last visit during the Super Eights, Leeds were on the end of a 46 – 16 defeat. This may loom large in the memory given their recent run. Their first half-display against North Queensland points the way to better times for the Rhinos, but it’s unlikely they’ll stop the rot in Perpignan. Catalans’ fresher side to pull away for a comfortable win.

Squads

Catalans: Gigot, Broughton, Inu, Duport, Richards, Carney, Myler, Anderson, Stewart, Horo, Baitieri, Taylor, Bousquet, Pelissier, Mounis, Bosc, Elima, Da Costa, Mason.

Leeds: Hardaker, Watkins, Moon, Hall, Burrow, Galloway, Cuthbertson, Sutcliffe, Delaney, Singleton, Keinhorst, Achurch, Mullally, Walters, Handley, Baldwinson, Lilley, Ferres, Hallas.

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