Australian Todd Carney scored two tries for the Catalans Dragons but a fluffed conversion of his second opened the way for a Huddersfield Giants comeback in their Super League match on Sunday.
The Giants’ Danny Brough kicked a touchline conversion with the last play of the game to give Huddersfield a 22-22 Magic Weekend draw with the French side at St James’ Park in Newcastle.
A second-half masterclass from Carney and 22 unanswered points from the Dragons had looked set to condemn the Giants to a loss after their early lead of 16-0, but a stunning Jermaine McGillvary try and Brough’s stellar kick split the points.
It was fitting that Brough had the last word after another fine display of kicking, but had Scott Dureau – shaken up after a late McGillvary hit – not fluffed a routine conversion to Carney’s second try, the Giants would have ended pointless.
Carney – playing in Super League after disciplinary problems ended his time in the NRL – had come to life at St James’ Park to score two tries and put the Dragons on course for what would have been just a second win on English soil this season.
But his side were left with half of what they thought they were getting after a thrilling finish which had looked an unlikely outcome after a dour first half.
Brough’s creativity had been the stand-out talking point of the first 40, with three goals and an assist helping his side go in 10-0 to the good.
After going close through Brett Ferres – who went off injured when being held up by Carney – Huddersfield went in front when, in their fifth set on Catalans’ line, Brough’s outside-of-the-boot kick found the waiting Jodie Broughton, who took it in and dropped over the line for his first try of the season.
It was a particularly tight game at that point – something emphasised by Brough adding to his conversion with a brace of penalties as half-time approached, with Catalans issued with a team warning as a result of persistent indiscipline.
Brough’s assist for Broughton’s try had been a moment to savour and the same pair combined to the same effect three minutes after the break. Scotland half Brough again pitched an outside-of-the-boot kick to the left and, after Jake Connor shifted it on with a no-look pass, Broughton went in again.
The game was in danger of getting away from Catalans but Louis Anderson’s offload allowed Eloi Pelissier to nip in from close range and reduce the gap, and had Tony Gigot held on to the ball when going through a gap close to the line they could have been even closer.
It did come down to four points with 17 minutes left, though, as Carney showed a glimpse of his undoubted world-class talent. The former Sydney Rooster took a step to get past Luke Robinson and go under the sticks, with Dureau adding the extras.
Catalans had real hope now and with Brough unable to impose himself as before, Zeb Taia dragged himself through a gap to level the scores. And when Bureau upgraded the score they led 18-16 with 10 minutes left.
Carney then decided the time was right to unleash some more magic, carving Huddersfield open once more and releasing Dureau who had a run to the line which was halted by McGillvary’s head-high grab. The ball came loose as a result and Carney was on hand to dab it down, but with Dureau still shaken he missed the conversion from bang in front.
That left Huddersfield six points behind and, when McGillvary put down a flying eye-of-the-needle score next to flag, Brough knew what he needed to do and did so with ease.