Catalans 40 – 36 Leigh

Leigh Centurions suffered heartbreak on their first visit to the Stade Gilbert Brutus, beaten by a Julian Bousquet try with just 13 seconds remaining. The Centurions looked set to reward their 1,000 plus travelling army of fans when Man of the Match Ben Reynolds calmly potted a 32-metre penalty with seven minutes left to regain the lead for his side at 36-34.

But the visitors were made to pay for failing to close out the game, losing possession of the ball in a frenetic finish with 90 seconds to go. The Dragons finally took the lead for the first time in the game when Bousquet collected Paul Aiton’s reverse pass and spun out of three tackles wide out on the left, Luke Walsh kicking his sixth goal.

Leigh held an 18-0 lead after 17 minutes and went in 28-12 ahead at half-time but were forced on the back foot for most of the second half as Steve McNamara celebrated his first home match in charge of the Dragons with a win.

Matty Dawson marked his 100th career game with a try in the right corner from Glenn Stewart’s long pass to get the visitors off to a great start. Danny Tickle then drove over from Liam Hood’s pass after Cory Paterson went close and when Reynolds superbly dummied his way over the Centurions- with Reynolds tagging on three conversions- had that 18-0 advantage.

Reynolds carried on with plugs in his nose after a late collision with Greg Bird after kicking ahead but opposite number Richie Myler was forced off with a shoulder injury for the Dragons.

But Catalans fought back when Jodie Broughton scored in the corner from Tony Gigot’s long pass and Mickael Simon blasted over by the upright to reduce the arrears to 12-28.

Sam Hopkins then sent in his side with a commanding lead at the break with a quick-fire double, collecting Ben Crooks’ pass after Fouad Yaha deliberated too long from Reynolds’ grubber and then pouching a Reynolds pass to score by the posts, Reynolds converting the latter try.

Catalans’ recovery was sparked by six successive penalties in the second half while Leigh’s right sided defence failed to re-group after Crooks was sin binned with Bird after an altercation in back play. With Crooks on the sideline, Yaha went over from Aiton’s pass and two minutes later Vincent Duport cashed in on the power play in the same corner to reduce the arrears to 22-28.

Reynolds restored some composure to the Centurions by acrobatically grounding Josh Drinkwater’s right-footed kick just before it ran dead, adding the conversion to give his side a 12pt advantage with 26 minutes left.

But when Sam Moa reacted first to a Walsh kick that took a ricochet off a Leigh defender Catalans were right back in it midway through a fast moving and physical second half.

Just ten minutes remained when Justin Horo burst over on the right for the Dragons after Dawson was stripped off the ball in a three-man challenge , Walsh coolly converting to tie the scores.

Walsh was off target with a long range drop-goal attempt and then Reynolds calmly booted Leigh back in front to take his tally to 20pts in an outstanding personal display.

Reynolds then brilliantly collected a testing Walsh kick close to his own line to seemingly decide the game before the dramatic finish.

Catalans Dragons: Tony Gigot; Jodie Broughton, Krisnan Inu, Vincent Duport, Fouad Yaha; Luke Walsh, Richie Myler; Sam Moa, Paul Aiton, Remi Casty (c ), Greg Bird, Justin Horo, Jason Baitieri. Interchange: Louis Anderson, Julian Bousquet, Ben Garcia, Mickael Simon.

Tries: Broughton (23), Simon (31), Yaha (47), Duport (49), Moa (59), Horo (70), Bousquet (80); Goals: Walsh 6/ 7.

Leigh Centurions: Mitch Brown; Matty Dawson, Ben Crooks, Matty Fleming, Adam Higson; Ben Reynolds, Josh Drinkwater; Danny Tickle, Liam Hood, Jamie Acton, Cory Paterson, Harrison Hansen (c ), Glenn Stewart. Interchange: Eloi Pelissier, Antoni Maria, Sam Hopkins, Lachlan Burr.

Tries: Dawson (6), Tickle (12), Reynolds (17, 54), Hopkins (36, 39); Goals: Reynolds 6/ 7.

Referee: Gareth Hewer; Half-time: 12-28; Penalty count: first half 3-7, second half 6-1.

Attendance: 8,728

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