Catalan Dragons will now meet Huddersfield Giants on Friday night in the next round of the Super League playoffs, after they shocked their hosts Leeds Rhinos 20-24 in tonight’s elimination playoff in a Headingley thriller.
And then snatched victory two minutes from time, when halfback Sam Williams, who will return to the NRL at the end of the season, pounced on a loose ball that had been dropped by Tom Briscoe from a pass near the Rhinos’ line from dummy half by captain Kevin Sinfield.
In a game that was tightly contested throughout, the Rhinos took the lead after 17 minutes through a try by Carl Ablett that was created by a Kevin McGuire pass, with Sinfield adding the goal.
Eight minutes later the Dragons were level, when Williams scored his first try after Benjamin Garcia puts Greg Mounis through a hole in the Rhinos’ defence for Williams in support to take the final pass, with Thomas Bosc adding the conversion.
Leeds went ahead again when Zak Hardaker kicked a penalty after Sinfield was fouled, and then Kallum Watkins touched down after he kicked ahead when a poor pass from Morgan Escaré went to ground and he beat Vincent Duport to touch down, with Sinfield’s goal giving Leeds a 14-6 interval lead.
The Dragons hit back when Zeb Taia caught a kick from Bosc and touched down for a try awarded by the video referee. Bosc’s goal reduced the margin to two points, before they took the lead when Louis Anderson scored, bumping Hardaker out of the way on his way to the line, with Bosc’s goal making it 14-18.
But on 70 minutes it looked as though the Rhinos were going to snatch the game, when Kevin Sinfield created a try for Jamie Jones-Buchanan, and Sinfield’s goal gave the Rhinos a two-point lead.
But the Rhinos had made an uncharacteristic number of errors, and when Briscoe dropped Sinfield’s pass, and Williams scored, it was too late for the Rhinos to fight back.
The Dragons will now face a trip to the Giants, who will have to improve dramatically from their abject defeat to Wigan on Thursday if they are to hold off their French visitors.
A full report and photos for this game will feature in Monday’s edition of Rugby League Express.