Leeds Rhinos fell to another heavy defeat in Super League with a 61-0 score away to Catalans in a grim viewing for supporters both in France and on Sky Sports.
The defeat knocks any hopes of a top six finish in a disappointing campaign for the Headingley Stadium outfit just 12 months after their Grand Final appearance.
Here are our five takeaways from the clash.
Grim statistic and unwanted records for Rhinos
Rohan Smith’s side have now conceded 111 unanswered points in their last two Super League fixtures, following last week’s 50-0 hammering at home to rivals Wigan.
Some of the tries conceded in Perpignan were outright pathetic, with Mitchell Pearce’s slice through the middle and Tom Johnstone’s effort early in the second half proof of that. The result also marked the biggest win for Catalans over Leeds.
The Rhinos needed to win to give themselves a small chance of making the play-offs. But that’s all over now and fans will no doubt be glad to see the back of 2023.
Leeds haven’t been nilled in successive games since 1991. Another unwanted record.
Catalans fire warning shot ahead of play-offs
Steve McNamara’s side fired a warning shot to fellow top six clubs following their performance.
The French outfit had lost their previous two games to Hull KR and Wigan respectively ahead of Round 26, but may just return to form in time for the vital play-offs and with the League Leaders’ Shield still in their sights.
Catalans overtake four-peat champions St Helens on the table on points difference.
Wigan ‘licking their lips’ at record-breaking 2024 recruit
Wigan Warriors have outshined the competition in the player market to date for 2024, with the likes of Sam Walters and Kruise Leeming signed up.
But Adam Keighran may prove to be the biggest and most influential signing of them all.
Sky Sports lead commentator Bill Arthur believes the Warriors will be ‘licking their lips’ at the prospect of their new recruit, who broke a Catalans record on the night and kicked nine goals from ten, alongside a hat-trick.
He very well may take over kicking duties at the DW Stadium, freeing up the pressure on Harry Smith, who has enjoyed a fine individual season with 22 try assists in an ever-present Super League campaign. However, his goal-kicking has come under scrutiny this year, although his home statistics are much better than his away which may prove to be crucial if Wigan secure a home semi-final clash.
And extends it to 30 with the conversion of his hat-trick try https://t.co/gIwbTiV7jD
— Rugby League Records (@RL_RKC) September 16, 2023
Luke Hooley confidence blow
Speaking on commentary, Wells believed the result and performance was a blow to the confidence of Luke Hooley as well as his team-mates.
It wasn’t his best performance on the night, although that could be said for all 17 players, with Leeds arguably yet to see his best since his move from Batley Bulldogs ahead of 2023.
With Richie Myler sidelined with injury, Hooley has started in the last five fixtures, having made his debut against Hull KR earlier in March.
Wells said: “I’m not player-bashing, I think he’s a high quality player but he’s clearly a player lacking in confidence, as are a lot of the players at Leeds Rhinos.”
Harry Newman won’t be picked for England
England boss Shaun Wane warned Leeds star Harry Newman that he had two games to improve his discipline to be in with a chance of featuring against Tonga at the end of the year.
But his yellow card for a cheap shot on opposition full-back Sam Tomkins will all but see the end of that.
The 23-year-old was named in Wane’s provisional 40-man England squad in April but did not feature in the win over France due to injury. His discipline and attitude has overshadowed his ability and talent in recent weeks and it’s unlikely that the centre will make the 24-man squad to face Kristian Woolf’s Tonga.