Leeds 18-26 Catalans: Dragons strengthen position at top of Super League

Mike McMeeken of Catalans celebrates scoring a try

Catalans Dragons edged an entertaining encounter with Leeds 26-18 to register a club-record eighth successive Super League victory.

Steve McNamara’s table-topping Dragons arrived at Headingley in outstanding form and having emerged as serious title contenders, but Leeds led 18-8 at half-time.

Yet the French visitors were not to be denied as three unanswered second-half tries from Matt Whitley, Mike McMeeken and Fouad Yaha maintained their position at the summit, ending Leeds’ four-match winning streak.

Both sides began brightly and, after Leeds centre Konrad Hurrell was stopped in his tracks after a fine break inside the right channel, the Rhinos went agonisingly close to scoring in the fifth minute.

Captain Luke Gale, back in the side after serving a two-match ban, found Richie Myler and the full-back offloaded to Tom Briscoe.

The winger looked destined to dive over in the left corner but Dragons full-back Sam Tomkins made an outstanding tackle to deny Briscoe just short of the line.

Catalans began to grow into the game and, after Bodene Thompson was penalised by referee James Child for a shove, James Maloney kicked the two points to put them ahead.

The Dragons then claimed the opening try through Arthur Mourgue in the 10th minute after some brilliant footwork took him through four defenders and over the line.

In the 15th minute, Leeds hit back when, after Joel Tomkins conceded a penalty, the hosts advanced upfield and Gale’s kick to the right corner saw Luke Briscoe and Yaha challenge for the ball in the air.

As it dropped backwards, Rhyse Martin was on hand to touch down for a try which he converted to cut Catalans’ lead to two points.

Leeds grew in confidence and scored their second try in the 23rd minute when Brad Dwyer’s neat pass sent the onrushing Thompson crashing over the line from close range.

Both teams had chances to score further tries before the break and Catalans prop Sam Kasiano was sin-binned for a high shot on Luke Briscoe as tensions rose.

Leeds did manage to score a third try in the 39th minute when Liam Sutcliffe dived over from acting half-back and Martin’s third goal made it 18-8 at the break.

Catalans were outstanding in the second half and, in the 51st minute, they breached Leeds’ defence as Maloney’s clever pass sent second-rower Whitley over inside the left channel.

Mourgue added the extras to make it 18-14 and in the 57th minute a brilliant break from Maloney saw him ghost through the Rhinos’ defence and usher McMeeken over the line.

That made it 18-18 and Mourgue converted to put his side ahead before Catalans grabbed a fourth try in the 67th minute when Yaha went over in the left corner from Sam Tomkins’ pass.

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