Match Report – Catalans 27 – 18 Leeds

Catalans Dragons staged a superb second-half recovery to defeat Leeds 27-18 and extend their club-record Super League winning streak to nine successive matches.

The table-topping Dragons had won eight on the bounce and were expected to celebrate a long-awaited homecoming in front of their supporters for the first time in over 15 months with another triumph in Perpignan.

However, nobody told the Rhinos, who put on a stunning early blitz led by scrum-half Luke Gale and former Dragon Richie Myler to build an 18-2 half-time lead.

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Leeds could not hold on to that advantage though as the Dragons roared back after the interval to claim the spoils with four unanswered second-half tries.

The Dragons went ahead early with an Arthur Mourgue penalty and winger Fouad Yaha almost extended the lead with a powerful burst down the left before being bundled into touch.

Instead, it was Tom Briscoe who claimed the game’s first try in the opposite corner as Leeds full-back Myler stretched the home defence to provide the killer pass. Gale added the conversion from the touchline to put the visitors 6-2 ahead.

Catalans, without key playmaker James Maloney and second row Joel Tomkins through suspension, struggled to find early dominance against the Rhinos despite a string of penalties conceded by Leeds for high tackles.

Winger Tom Davies went close for the Dragons but was pushed into touch by Briscoe and then substitute hooker Brad Dwyer came on to boost the Leeds attack.

The Dragons responded with the arrival of giant prop Sam Kasiano from the bench in the 28th minute and he started to punch holes in the Leeds line.

But Catalans could not capitalise when Josh Drinkwater failed to ground a Mourgue high-kick over the line and they were then forced to drop out from their own line after pressure from the rampant Gale.

Centre Harry Newman was terrorising the Dragons’ left edge and Briscoe swooped on a Davies fumble in-goal to get his second try of the game. Gale added the conversion and Leeds were 12-2 ahead with just four minutes to half-time.

The visitors then extended their lead further after a brilliant passage of play orchestrated by Gale and Dwyer involving four set-restarts saw the impressive Kruise Leeming cross for the Rhinos’ third try of the half.

With their winning run under threat, Catalans came out after the break in determined fashion.

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Captain Ben Garcia was unable to make the most of a good opportunity but Kasiano then burst through to touch down from short range to give the home supporters something to shout about, with Mourgue’s conversion cutting the gap between the teams to 10 points.

The comeback continued as Drinkwater’s towering bomb was collected by Sam Tomkins and he put Mourgue in between the posts, the young Frenchman converting his own try to make it 18-14 to Leeds.

Catalans then reclaimed the lead they lost early on when a delayed pass by Drinkwater sent Matt Whitley hurtling through the Leeds line, with Mourgue’s conversion putting them two points ahead.

A dazzling handling movement on the right flank finished with a flourish when Mike McMeeken found Davies with an outrageous reverse pass to put Catalans further ahead.

Catalans had two further tries disallowed by the video referee but they continued to press a tiring Leeds side whose discipline was costing them dearly.

A cool drop-goal by Sam Tomkins six minutes from the end put a precious seven-point gap between the two teams as the Rhinos visibly wilted in the heat before Mourgue put the cherry on a fine performance with a penalty goal just before the final hooter.

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