Catalans Dragons made history in the most dramatic fashion with a 31-30 golden-point victory over the champions, St Helens, to clinch the Super League Leaders’ Shield at the Magic Weekend in Newcastle.
The French side came from 30-12 down to draw level after 80 minutes with three converted tries in five minutes and send the game into extra time. The veteran half-back James Maloney, who is retiring at the end of the season, then won the game with a drop goal from 40 metres out eight minutes into extra time to ensure the Perpignan club end in the top spot for the first time.
Dragons scored the opening try in the third minute when a Sam Tomkins dummy allowed him to burst through a gap in the St Helens defence, with Maloney converting, but Saints had an 18-6 half-time lead thanks to tries from Tommy Makinson, Sione Mata’utia and Lachlan Coote.
The French side came close to scoring early in the second half when Michael McIlorum laid the ball off to Gil Dudson but he was unable to ground the ball.
Mata’utia got his second try of the game in the 49th minute, beating two Catalans players and finding space to run into before diving over to score, with Coote converting.
Julian Bousquet went over for Catalans in the 58th minute after surging forward and grounding the ball between the posts and Maloney converted.
Both sides saw plenty of the ball as the half progressed, but Saints got the next try after gaining possession through Mata’utia, who sprinted upfield to put pressure on Catalans and Morgan Knowles scored in the 70th minute with a successful conversion from Coote.
Dragons did not allow their heads to drop and staged a stunning comeback, with three tries in the final five minutes taking the game to extra time.
Dean Whare got the first in the 75th minute, Dudson added another shortly afterwards and Sam Kasiano completed the comeback as Maloney ensured a hat-trick of successful conversions.
Samisoni Langi was carried off the field on a stretcher in the final minute of extra time after a challenge from Agnatius Paasi which saw him sent to the sin bin.
Coote attempted a drop goal in the second half of extra time but missed, and shortly afterwards Maloney scored with his 40-metre effort to clinch a dramatic and historic victory.
Castleford’s coach, Daryl Powell says his team are in a great position to make the play-offs after maintaining their late-season resurgence with a 29-18 win over Salford.
The makeshift half-backs Jordan Turner and Peter Mata’utia both scored tries as the Tigers held off a spirited Red Devils to secure a fifth win from six matches. “We can be gritty and tough and today we found a way to win,” Powell said. “We’ve got two games left and we’re in a great position. The players are hanging tough and finding a way to win games when they’re under pressure.”
Leeds strengthened their play-off hopes and virtually extinguished those of Hull with a golden-point 25-24 victory at St James’ Park. The Rhinos fought back from 24-14 down to level the scores and force extra time and it took them until the second period to land the winner through Kruise Leeming’s drop goal.
It clinched a fourth Leeds win from their last five matches, while a seventh defeat in eight games leaves Hull’s top-six hopes hanging by a thread. Brett Hodgson’s men will now need to win their last two matches of the regular season and hope either Leeds or Castleford lose both their last two.