In a heavyweight showdown that would make Anthony Joshua and Tyson Fury blush, Catalans Dragons staged a stunning comeback to beat St Helens on day one of Magic Weekend in a thriller at Newcastle, winning by Golden Point after the scores finished 30-30 in normal time.
The showdown between first and second in the Betfred Super League at St James' Park marks the third time the sides will have met this year, with St Helens having beaten an under-strength Catalans 34-12 at the Totally Wicked Stadium just under a month ago. They knew they would have to be at the top of their game to slay the Dragons again this weekend.
A magnificent try from Sam Tomkins gave Catalans a dream start in the north-east, with James Maloney converting the subsequent kick. But, just when Saints look to be going nowhere, Kristian Woolf’s side capitalised on some ill discipline from Catalans and reduced the deficit after a fabulous finish from Tommy Makinson
Lachlan Coote pushed the following conversion wide but the Scottish fullback made amends after some tremendous play down the left flank from Jack Welsby, Mark Percival and Coote saw the latter cross the line untouched. This time Coote was able to convert the try.
Catalans were made to rue a golden opportunity to get themselves back into proceedings in the first interval when clean through, Mike McMeeken’s pass went straight into the arms of Percival. Moments later Saints extended their lead to ten points when Sione Mata'utia bulldozed past several Dragons defenders to get over to score. Coote once again converted.
Coote converted a penalty on the stroke of half-time to ensure Saints went into the break with a commanding 18-6 lead.
The second-half kicked off as the first had finished, with another stunner from Mata'utia. Latching onto a pass from Welsby, the Australian stepped a player and sprinted over the line. Coote was one again on hand to convert.
The Dragons gave themselves a glimmer of hope in getting back into the game when Julien Bosquet forced himself over the line and Maloney scored the subsequent kick. Saints stretched their lead after some superb work from Morgan Knowles who, unwilling to give up without a fight, twisted and turned to get himself over the line, seemingly wrapping up the points for the Merseyside outfit.
But there was still a twist or three left in this tale. First Dean Whare got himself over the line, with Maloney converting, and then, moments later, a second try in as many minutes set up a grandstand finish in Newcastle after substitute Gil Dodson got himself on the scoresheet too.
The final nail in the coffin for Saints and the completion of the most unlikely of comebacks came in the dying moments as Sam Kasiano, another sub, scored a try with the final kick of the game, sending the match to Golden Point with Maloney’s converted kick.
After one of the most remarkable comebacks of the season, mere moments after Cootes had failed to land a drop kick to win the game, Catalans emerged victorious when Maloney scored from distance. The Dragons won the League Leaders' Shield for the first time in their history with the win.
Elsewhere today in the Super League’s Magic Weekend, a haul of 12 points from Peter Mata'utia helped inspire Castleford Tigers to a 29-18 victory over Salford Red Devils. Tries from Dan Smith, Paul McShane and Oliver Holmes helped Castleford into a 16-12 lead at half-time, with Salford registering converted scores from Ken Sio and Joe Burgess.
Jordan Turner and Mata'utia both crossed for tries in the second-half to seal the win, with the latter kicking four goals too.
Kicking off at 8pm, Leeds Rhinos take on Hull FC to round out Saturday’s Magic Weekend fixtures.