Catalan Dragons 18 Harlequins 16: Murphy finishes dramatic Dragons fightback

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Be it in France, England or Wales, the refusal of the Catalan Dragons to give up a lost cause marks them out as the best of the rest in pursuit of Leeds at the top of Super League. Two tries in the last 10 minutes here, from Julien Touxagas and Justin Murphy, salvaged an unlikely victory for the French side and took their unbeaten run in all competitions to nine games.

These two sides might not be obvious local derby opponents, but just like last year they were a good match for each other on the second day of action at the Millennium Stadium.

The oldest player in Super League, Jason Croker, put the Catalans ahead when he took a pass from Thomas Bosc and went past four defenders after only five minutes. A player at the other end of his career, Quins' young London-bred forward Michael Worrincy, levelled the scores five minutes later.

The London side, the closest thing to a home team in Cardiff, then went in front when the experienced half-back Scott Hill found a way through from Chad Randall's pass.

Both sides were trying to play expansive rugby, but the familiar problem of a slippery pitch in the day's first match led to plenty of mistakes.

Quins consolidated their lead nine minutes into the second half when Jon Wells made the initial break and Hill turned the ball back inside for a substitute, Chris Melling, to score. Rob Purdham's second goal made for a 10-point lead, which the Londoners could have stretched further but for Clint Greenshields' cover tackle on Rikki Sheriffe.

The Catalans were making little headway in attack but they scored the crucial try from the most unpromising of positions when Quins were pressing their line. Randall's pass came off Danny Orr's fingertips and Touxagas snatched it out of the air to go on a 90-metre dash, remarkable for a solidly built forward.

Even more remarkably, Touxagas intercepted from Randall again on the next Quins attack, although Adam Mogg this time spoiled the counter-thrust with a forward pass.

That seemed to eat up the available time for the Dragons but a lost ball, Sébastien Raguin's run and Bosc's clever kick over the defence combined to give Murphy his chance. He ran around behind the sticks to leave Bosc an easy conversion to win what was in the end a minor epic.

Catalan Dragons: Greenshields; Murphy, Mogg, Raguin, Pelo; Bosc, McGuire; Chan, Gorrell, Guisset, Carlaw, Croker, Mounis. Substitutes used: Ferriol, Fakir, Bentley, Touxagas.

Harlequins: Wells; Clubb, Gaffa, Howell, Sheriffe; Hill, Orr; Temata, Randall, Ward, Worrincy, Purdham, Paul. Substitutes used: Rinaldi, Melling, Haggerty, Mbu.

Referee: A Klein (Keighley)

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