Catalans Dragons had to dig deep to see off Kingstone Press Championship side London Broncos to record a 20-18 victory in their first Super 8s Qualifiers tie.
Former Catalans half-back William Barthau haunted his old club to put the Broncos 6-0 up following Jarrod Sammut's conversion but Richie Myler crossed for the hosts, with Luke Walsh's boot levelling the scores on 14 minutes.
London re-established the lead when hooker Andy Ackers crashed over to put the visitors 10-6 ahead until Brayden Wiliame dotted down in the final play of the first half, with Walsh adding the extras to earn the hosts a slender advantage.
Sammut and Walsh traded penalties as the Betfred Super League side maintained their lead before Myler created an overlap for Louis Anderson to charge over with 12 minutes left.
Walsh added the conversion to take the score to 20-12 and crucially give the hosts an eight-point advantage which was to prove vital in the last minute of the game when Mark Ioane crossed the whitewash, with Sammut adding the conversion attempt as the hooter sounded.
Broncos head coach Andrew Henderson was proud of his team's defensive performance despite coming up short in Perpignan.
"I thought it was a monumental effort from my team today. We had to deal with the fact that we had to travel here on the day, that is something that we haven't done before as a team and I thought the boys handled that really well.
"I felt we competed hard for large periods of that game and I think probably on another day we might have got something out of that game.
"I think a couple of times in the second half, William Barthau took the ball to the line and just lost possession over the line and I know it's a cliche to say it is a game of inches, but that is what it came down to today. We were a little bit unfortunate and a little bit unlucky."
"We really had to scramble in defence at times today, especially in that first half.
"We had to absorb an enormous amount of pressure on our own try line and those London players just kept turning up for each other and they were just so willing to hold them out. I thought we were very, very good out there today for large parts of that game."
Catalans boss Steve McNamara believes his side were lucky to come away with victory.
"The team did not play at their level tonight, it's frustrating and it was frustrating to watch," he said.
"That being said, we can learn lessons from tonight and we have to learn it quickly ahead of next weekend. We learnt a lot about the competition that we've entered today. The team that I've seen play over the past few weeks against Castleford, Wigan and St Helens was not there tonight.
"The last few weeks has been about improving parts of our game which I felt we undid today. A win is a win and it was essential that we gained the two points tonight.
"We ended up with the two points and given the competition we are in, that was the number one priority today."
|Vitale Maika Roqica||0||0||25||3||1||1||0||11||66||6.00||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||3|