LAST season it was Scott Dureau who broke the Giants’ hearts with a vital late drop goal.
This time it was Thomas Bosc who inflicted the pain on Huddersfield as they missed the chance to return to the top of the Super League XVII table.
Memories of Dureau’s one-pointer in the Dragons’ 13-12 triumph in Perpignan just over a year ago are still fresh in the memory.
But now it’s Bosc whose name will haunt the Giants after he banged over a crucial drop goal with four minutes remaining to make it 21-20 after a truly pulsating encounter in the south of France.
Huddersfield desperately tried to gain possession from the re-start, but that failed to happen and within seconds, Vincent Duport had rubbed salt into the wounds by storming over for his side’s fifth try – and Bosc calmly added on the extras.
It was cruel indeed on the visitors, who for so long looked as if they had the mental and physical strength to steal the contest at the death.
All five of last week’s rested Giants returned to the fold, but it was the hosts who started the stronger, with plenty of aggression both on attack and defence.
Fortunately, the Giants were up to the task and on their first attack after seven minutes, Brown’s long cut-out pass put Luke George over, but it was ruled forward.
Both teams then created several half-chances before the Dragons eventually took the lead after 15 minutes – and just as a torrential downpour reached its peak.
On the sixth tackle, Dureau kicked to the corner and over the heads of several players and straight to the fortunate Damien Cardace, who simply picked up and strolled over amid protests from the Giants that the ball had hit a Catalan hand on the way through to him.
Yet such was the see-saw nature of the contest that it was no surprise when Huddersfield took the lead for the first time eight minutes later, when the alert Luke Robinson took a quick tap penalty on halfway and shot through to finish under the posts for Danny Brough to add the extras.
It was just what they deserved, with Luke O’Donnell and Jason Chan having been held up on the line and a Brough grubber forcing a goal-line drop-out just a few minutes earlier.
That lead was short-lived, however, with Catalan regaining the lead in the 27th minute after Clint Greenshields shot into the line five metres out and slid over for a second unconverted score for the Frenchmen.
Again, the visitors were able to find the perfect response.
The Dragons knocked-on from the re-start and from the subsequent set, the position was created for Dale Ferguson to charge over with his first touch of the contest. Brough’s goal made it 12-8.
But four minutes before the break, the Giants conceded a third try after Leon Pryce followed up a Cardace break to finish off and Dureau landed his first conversion.
Catalan started the second half strongly, with Dureau’s 40-20 causing an initial scare, although that was to be the inspirational half-back’s last telling contribution.
In the 47th minute he was forced to leave the field with a leg injury and the Giants pounced.
Within seconds, they had forced a second goal-line drop-out and set up the position for Keith Mason to take the ball to the line.
David Faiumu worked the blindside and fed Scott Grix who dive over, giving Huddersfield the lead for the third time, although Brough was off target with the conversion from wide out.
Yet once again, the Giants were unable to hold on to a lead, and after conceding back-to-back penalties close to their line, the pressure finally paid when Remi Casty collected five metres out and charged over for Thomas Bosc to convert. It was now 20-16.
A strong 62nd-minute Grix break from deep gave the men from England their next strong spell, but poor options proved their undoing.
But the pressure continued to grow on the Catalan line, with drop-outs three and four coming quickly and Greg Eden adjudged to have been held up over the line – although much to the annoyance of the Giants.
They weren’t to be denied with eight minutes remaining, though.
An amazing Jason Chan break from just inside his own half forced the Dragons onto the back foot and two plays later, the ball was worked to the left for Joe Wardle to show great strength to touch down under pressure from two determined defenders.
Brough was unable to convert from the touchline and it was 20-20.
Unfortunately, that score seemed to re-energise Catalan who finished the stronger.
First, Bosc banged over a 76th-minute drop goal and, two minutes later, he landed the conversion after Duport had charged over for the match-winner, with Bosc adding the extras to give them a seven-point lead with no time left to strike back.