Leeds Rhinos earned a remarkable win over Catalans Dragons as they fought back from 30-6 down with 12 men to claim a golden point extra time victory in Perpignan.
Scrum-half Aidan Sezer scored the winning try as the Rhinos snatched a 36-32 victory having looked dead and buried following the second-half dismissal of prop Matt Prior.
Richie Myler was instrumental in Leeds’ recovery, scoring a hat-trick of tries in the space of 13 minutes, before Brad Dwyer helped level things up late on, with Sezer going on to cap the fightback in added time.
Catalans will be left wondering just how they managed to end up on the losing side having seemingly taken total control of the contest after outscoring Leeds five tries to one in the opening 52 minutes.
Winger Fouad Yaha was first to cross the line for the Dragons in the seventh minute after Leeds coughed up the ball with a series of handling mistake.
Sam Tomkins was unable to convert from the touchline but made amends with a 12th-minute penalty when Leeds were caught offside close to their own line.
Leeds then conceded two penalties for late challenges on Tomkins, allowing Catalans to earn good field position for Ben Jullien to split the Rhinos defence and score on the left, with Tomkins’ kick making it 12-0 after 19 minutes.
Leeds resisted wave after wave of Catalans attacks until three minutes from half-time when a Josh Drinkwater kick was deflected by the Rhinos defence into the hands of Yaha who strode over for his second try in the left corner.
However, as the interval hooter beckoned, the Rhinos turned the tide and pressed forward themselves and Liam Sutcliffe juggled a ball around his back to crash over from short range.
Rhyse Martin’s conversion made it 16-6 to the hosts at the break but Leeds’ hopes of making further in-roads into the deficit suffered a series of body blows at the start of the second half.
HT: Catalans 16-6 Leeds
In the first minute after the restart, Prior was sin-binned for a clash with Joe Chan and Tomkins slotted over the penalty.
Tomkins then took Catalans further forward with a 40/20 kick and giant prop Sam Kasiano crashed through the Leeds defence to score from short range, Tomkins again converting for 24-6.
Two minutes later Arthur Mourgue, in for the absent Mitchell Pearce at stand-off, put in a precise kick to in-goal for Langi to finish for another converted try.
Prior returned from the sin-bin but immediately took out Catalans loose forward Alrix Da Costa, leaving referee Chris Kendall with no option but to send him off in the 55th minute.
Trailing 30-6 and a player down, the game looked lost for Leeds but they gave themselves a lifeline when substitute Cameron Smith broke though in the middle of the pitch to release Myler for a sprint and try under the posts.
That seemed to inspire the Rhinos and Myler scored a carbon-copy try two minutes later when Leeds kept the ball alive to release the stand-off, with Martin again on target with the conversion to make it 30-18.
Tomkins increased Catalans’ lead again with a 64th-minute penalty but against the run of play James Bentley managed to find space for Myler to complete his hat-trick nine minutes from time.
Then substitute hooker Dwyer struck after the Rhinos rampaged through the Dragons’ defence to set up at nail-biting final four minutes.
Tomkins failed to handle a towering Myler bomb and Yaha was sin-binned for holding down in a tackle, allowing Martin to score the penalty that levelled the scores at 32-32.
Drinkwater missed with a drop-goal attempt seconds from the hooter and when Tomkins grounded the ball over his own line the game went into golden point territory.
Sezer missed a chance for victory when his shot at goal went wide, but he was not to be denied and sealed a stunning win for Leeds when he scampered behind the posts in the fifth minute of the first half of golden point.
FT: Catalans 32-36 Leeds
Catalans: Tomkins, Yaha, Langi, Whare, Romano, Mourgue, Drinkwater, Dudson, McIlorum, Seguier, Jullien, J.Chan, Da Costa. Bench: T.Chan, Goudemand, Cozza, Kasiano.
Tries: Yaha (2), Jullien, Kasiano, Langi
Leeds: Hardaker, Tindall, Newman, Sutcliffe, Handley, Sezer, Myler, Oledzki, O’Connor, Thompson, Bentley, Martin, Donaldson. Bench: Dwyer, Gannon, Smith, Prior.
Tries: Sutcliffe, Myler (3), Dwyer, Sezer.