Sinfield: We don't want it to end
Leeds captain Kevin Sinfield insists his side can once more defy the critics and go all the way in the Super League play-offs.
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Sinfield led from the front as the defending champions pulled off a thrilling 27-20 win over Catalan Dragons in Perpignan on Friday night to move to within 80 minutes of Old Trafford.
"We don't want it to end," he said. "We'll keep turning up and keep doing our best. I thought we dug in, it was a great team effort."
The Rhinos, who made history by winning the Grand Final from fifth place last season, kept alive their hopes of a repeat by twice coming from behind to see off a battling Catalan side in the first preliminary semi-final.
Their reward is a trip to either table-toppers Wigan or last year's beaten finalists St Helens as they set their sights on a seventh Grand Final in nine years.
The champions will be boosted by the return of prop Kylie Leuluai, who missed Friday night's game because of suspension, but they will be sweating over the availability of stand-off Danny McGuire, Super League's most prolific tryscorer.
McGuire was put on report seven minutes into the second half by referee Ben Thaler for a high tackle on-second rower Louis Anderson, an incident that will be scrutinised by the Rugby Football League's match-review panel on Monday.
It was McGuire, fresh from his record-breaking exploits against Wakefield, who scored the game's pivotal try, finishing off a remarkable long-range break by prop forward Ryan Bailey on 64 minutes, and settling the tie with a drop goal three minutes from the end.
Substitutes Shaun Lunt and Stevie Ward and centre Carl Ablett scored Leeds' other tries and Sinfield kicked five goals in a terrific performance.
"That was probably one of the most toughest and physically demanding wins I've seen in a long time," coach Brian McDermott said.
"I have a lot of respect for Catalan and the way they play the game and that puts into context how big a win that is. On a few different levels, that was a huge win for us."
Defeat brought to an end the tenure of Catalan coach Trent Robinson, who will now return to Australia to take charge of Sydney Roosters, and he bowed out on a sour note with a swipe at Super League officials.
"I thought the referee played a huge part and there were a huge amount of poor calls from the touch judges that pushed the weight of possession in their favour," he said.
"They have got to fix that up and get it right. I'm leaving but it's just poor. We've had two years of having the most errors against us."