Aidan Sezer and Richie Myler inspire Leeds Rhinos to stunning comeback win at Catalans Dragons
Leeds head coach Rohan Smith felt his side’s “absolutely incredible” comeback victory over Catalans Dragons exemplified the spirit in the Rhinos camp.
Catalans looked to be cruising to victory in Perpignan as they opened up a 30-6 lead before then seeing Leeds reduced to 12 men when Matt Prior was sent off in the 55th minute.
However, Leeds refused to give in and a hat-trick of tries from Richie Myler helped them wipe out Catalans’ advantage and send the game to golden point extra time, where Aidan Sezer’s try snatched a remarkable 36-32 win for the Rhinos.
Smith said: “That was absolutely incredible. The way we stuck in there with 12 men right until the death was unbelievable and it just shows the spirit that we have in this club.
“The game wasn’t really reflective of the score at times when we were behind, it was more of an arm-wrestle and one of the slowest games I’ve seen this year with a lot of stoppages but we coped with that.
“We were still full of running at the end, which is how we prepare our players.
“We were a bit clunky on attack at the start of the game and lacked any kind of fluency which didn’t take any petrol out of Catalans.
“But we’re training so we can finish games strongly which has come through in most of our recent games.
“I love the squad I have, we have a role to play in trying to build our roster but I love our group, it’s a journey and we are improving week to week.
“We still haven’t played our first-choice team so I’m still hopeful there is more improvement in us.
“Aidan Sezer is so important to us and it was good to have him back today.
“His running game is underestimated by everyone including himself so I was glad to see him get the winning try tonight.”
A Catalans victory looked assured after tries from Fouad Yaha (two), Benjamin Jullien, Sam Kasiano and Samisoni Langi saw them move 24 points clear just after half-time.
The dismissal of Prior appeared to further strengthen the home side’s position, but Leeds rallied in remarkable fashion to leave Catalans coach Steve McNamara struggling to comprehend what had happened to his side.
He said: “It’s hard to explain the last 20 minutes of that game, for 60 minutes we executed what we want to do well in attack and defence.
“We had some late withdrawals yesterday and a bit of adversity but the players were tremendous for a long period in that game but what happens at the end is inexcusable.
“We had to get practically everything wrong and they had to get everything right and that’s what happened.
“For a team that was together for 60 minutes we separated and separated quickly.
“Leeds had nothing to lose at that stage and they played some high-risk rugby league and everything came off.
“It’s an absolutely huge disappointment tonight for us, we got what we deserved at the end, sport is very harsh and once momentum swings it is hard to control. We stopped working in defence, stopped moving and we had the opportunities to win the game before and during golden point and we blew it.”
Catalans Dragons: Tomkins, Romano, Langi, Whare, Yaha, Mourgue, Drinkwater, Da Costa, J. Chan, Jullien, Seguier, McIlorum, Dudson. Replacements: Goudemand, Kasiano, Cozza, T. Chan.
Leeds: Hardaker, Tindall, Sutcliffe, Newman, Handley, Myler, Sezer, Donaldson, Martin, Bentley, Thompson, O’Connor, Oledzki. Replacements: Gannon, Dwyer, Prior, Smith.
Referee: Chris Kendall (RFL)