Catalans Dragons 13 Huddersfield Giants 12: Last-minute moment of magic from Sam Tomkins seals thrilling win in Perpignan for hosts

SAM TOMKINS stunned Huddersfield Giants by kicking Catalans Dragons to a last-minute 13-12 victory that enabled them to leapfrog their opponents in Super League.

The Giants looked to have overcome sweltering 33-degree heat to gain a third win of the season over the French side when Will Pryce kicked a long-range penalty to put his side 12-10 ahead 15 minutes from the end.

But England captain Tomkins brought his side level with a penalty and slotted a drop goal a minute from the end to decide a pulsating encounter.

The thrilling finish was witnessed by Catalans president Bernard Guasch, who was back in his seat in the main stand at Stade Gilbert Brutus after serving a four-match ban for making physical contact with the referee after a home defeat by the Giants in June.

Sam Tomkins of Catalans Dragons and Ashton Golding of Huddersfield Giants duels for the ball. Picture by Manuel Blondeau/SWpix.com

That was their only reverse in the league at home in 2022 and the Giants were on course for another famous victory following a slipshod first-half performance by the Dragons.

They were boosted by the return of skipper Ben Garcia who missed last week’s defeat at Salford after having his right ear almost torn off in the defeat by Warrington at Magic Weekend. But they were still without Michael McIlorum and Dylan Napa through suspension and had Arthur Romano deputising for injured winger Fouad Yaha.

Huddersfield, who had utility player Ashton Golding taking the place of injured winger Jermaine McGillvary, made the best possible start, second-rower Chris McQueen pouncing on an error by winger Mathieu Laguerre to score his 13th try of the season after only four minutes.

Oliver Russell, whose high kick led to the knock-on, could not add the goal but the Giants were good value for their early lead as the Catalans struggled for any cohesion in the sticky conditions.

SPOT ON: Sam Tomkins of Catalans Dragons is congratulated by Sam Kasiano of Catalans Dragons (R) after scoring the winning drop goal. Picture by Manuel Blondeau/SWpix.com

The introduction of heavyweight prop Sam Kasiano and lively utility back Arthur Mourgue looked to have injected fresh purpose into the Dragons’ attack but Kasiano’s handling let him down as they failed to sustain any pressure.

When Laguerre eventually found his way to the line, he was turned on his back by Giants substitute Sam Hewitt but the Catalans quickly shifted the ball across the line and a sublime pass from centre Dean Whare got Romano in for an equalising try five minutes before half-time.

Tomkins was narrowly wide with his conversion attempt but the Dragons went in front two minutes into the second half.

Pryce’s kick out on the full gave the home side a nice attacking position and second-rower Benjamin Jullien held off the tackle of McQueen to score their second try after being put through a gap by stand-off Mitchell Pearce.

Tomkins added the goal to make it 10-4 but it was level again on 56 minutes when Huddersfield hooker Danny Levi finished off a break by the impressive McQueen to score his side’s second try, which Russell converted.

Russell was forced off with a shoulder injury short of the hour mark, just as his side had been awarded a penalty 35 metres out, and Pryce stepped up to land the goal.

That sparked a frantic finale which was dominated by the home side. Tomkins levelled the scores with a penalty after being on the end of a high tackle from Hewitt and, after Pearce’s drop-goal attempt rebounded off the woodwork, it was Tomkins on target with the winning one-pointer.