The Catalans Dragons were intent on taking back their third spot, lost earlier in the afternoon to the Huddersfield Giants, as they welcomed the Leeds Rhinos to a hostile Stade Gilbert Brutus under the still hot, but waning, south of France summer sun.
A win for Leeds would lift them to seventh in the table, just a single point behind Hull FC inside the play-off places, but with the Rhinos getting a six-point start in the handicap coupon, the bookies were leaning towards a win for the home side.
It was a strong looking side named by Steve McNamara but Rohan Smith´s side were without Blake Austin and David Fusitu´a.
The Dragons opened the scoring on seven minutes when Fouad Yaha found space down the wing to outsmart the Rhinos defence after a decent enough start for Leeds. Sam Tomkins was unable to add the touchline conversion.
When Leeds were caught offside on twelve as they tried to diffuse a high bomb, Tomkins pointed to the sticks and kicked the penalty goal from fifteen metres out.
The Dragons got their second on eighteen minutes after a late hit on Tomkins gifted a penalty and it was Tomkins who found Benjamin Jullien to go in. Tomkins added the extras for 12-0 after nineteen minutes as the Rhinos struggled for any influence in the game.
Just after the half hour mark Tomkins had a shot at a drop goal but put it wide of the uprights.
The Dragons benefited from a bit of good fortune when a Josh Drinkwater grubber on thirty-seven rebounded off a Leeds man and into the hands of Yaha to cross for his second of the match. Tomkins was again off target with his conversion attempt, but the Dragons took a healthy 16-0 lead.
On the half time hooter Liam Sutcliffe juggled the pass from Rhyse Martin before going in to score. Martin added the conversion for 16-6 at the interval.
Straight after the restart Matt Prior was sin-binned after spilling the ball in the tackle, Sam Tomkins kicking the resulting penalty for 18-6.
A great pass from McIlorum found Sam Kasiano to crash over the Rhinos line for the fourth Dragons tie of the afternoon, the game drifting away from Leeds. Tomkins tagged on the extras on forty-eight minutes.
The Dragons were in again on fifty-four with Samisoni Langi being on hand to go through an increasingly tired Rhinos defence. It had been an expensive period with Prior off the field as the Rhinos shipped in fourteen unanswered points as Tomkins again added the extras.
With Prior just back on the field he was red-carded for a high tackle, Leeds now with a mountain to climb.
The twelve men got on the scoresheet thanks to a great okay by Cameron Smith, breaking the line and finding Richie Myler in support to go over. Martin added the conversion for 12-30 with twenty-two minutes remaining.
Within two minutes the Rhinos were in again, Myler collecting an Aidan Sezer grubber to force the ball onto the ground. Martin again added the goal to reduce the arrears to twelve points.
Another Tomkins penalty settled the Dragons nerves as he took the lead back to three scores, the Rhinos mini-fightback was over.
Richie Myler got his hat-trick on seventy as he took a pass from James Bentley to dive over. Martin was again on target with the boot, the Rhinos eight adrift with nine minutes remaining.
The Rhinos looked like they were going in again but were penalised for an obstruction.
A great interception from Bentley saw him sprint downfield before being tackled high. From the resulting penalty the Rhinos worked further downfield with Brad Dwyer gathering his own kick and diving over to score. Martin added the conversion to get the Rhinos within two points of the Dragons with four minutes left on the clock.
With two minutes remaining Tomkins spilled a high ball on his own line and in the resulting melee Yaha was sin-binned before Martin kicked the penalty goal to level the scores.
With seconds remaining Drinkwater attempted a drop goal but made an awful hash of it, the game going into sudden death golden point.
Leeds kicked off extra time and the Dragons knocked on giving the Rhinos a scrum twenty-five out from the Dragons line. Sezer had a shot at a drop goal but the ball went wide.
On the next set the Dragons worked into a position to drop a goal but conceded a penalty close to the Rhinos line. The Rhinos got another penalty on their own forty and kicked to touch and with Sezer in the pocket he took the ball and instead of kicking he made his way to the line to score.
An incredible effort by the twelve men of the Rhinos to fight back from 30-6 behind to level the scores at 32-32 with two minutes left, despite playing most of the second half with a one-man deficit. Forcing golden point was a massive achievement but actually winning the game, from the desperate position that they were in, will go down as the stuff of legend, a new chapter written into Rhinos folklore.
Sensational, the Rhinos now pushing their claim for a top six place and a shot at the play-offs. The Dragons will be wondering what just happened to them.
Catalans Dragons: Tomkins (6G), Yaha (2T, SB on 78), Whare, Langi (T), Romano, Drinkwater, Mourgue, Dudson, McIlorum, Seguir, Jullien (T), Chan J, Da Costa. Subs: Goudemand, Cozza, Kasiano (T), Chan T.
Leeds Rhinos: Hardaker, Handley, Newman, Sutcliffe (T), Tindall, Sezer (T), Myler (3T), Oledzki, O´Connor, Thompson, Bentley, Martin (6G), Donaldson. Subs: Gannon, Prior (SB on 41, SO on 53), Dwyer (T), Smith.
Full-Time: 32-32. Golden Point: 32-36.
Score Progression: 4-0, 6-0, 10-0, 12-0, 16-0, 16-4, 16-6 : HT : (SB), 18-6, 22-6, 24-6, 28-6, 30-6, (SO), 30-10, 30-12, 30-16, 30-18, 32-18, 32-22, 32-24, 32-28, 32-30, (SB), 32-32 : FT: 32-36 : Golden Point.
Lead Exchanges: Catalans – Square - Leeds.
Referee: Chris Kendall.