Super League: Leeds Rhinos 36-22 Catalans Dragons
|Leeds (16) 36|
|Tries: Briscoe 3, Garbutt, Watkins, Delaney Goals: Sinfield 6|
|Catalans (10) 22|
|Tries: Gigot 2, Escare, Dureau Goals: Dureau 3|
Tom Briscoe marked his return from injury with a hat-trick as Leeds beat Catalans Dragons to move back to the top of Super League.
The winger's opening try gave Rhinos an early lead, before Tony Gigot and Morgan Escare put Catalans ahead.
Briscoe and Mitch Garbutt crossed for Leeds, while Kevin Sinfield's penalty gave them an eight-point advantage.
Scott Dureau replied but Kallum Watkins and Brett Delaney crossed before Briscoe added his third try late on.
Winger Briscoe showed no sign of being hampered by the shoulder injury which had kept him out for four months as he put Leeds ahead inside five minutes.
|Leeds's hat-trick hero|
|Tom Briscoe's hat-trick was his second since joining Leeds, having scored three tries on his Rhinos debut against Hull KR in February 2014.|
Rhinos failed to extend their lead despite a succession of Dragons errors, and the hosts were punished when Gigot raced on to Dureau's kick through to level the scores.
Catalans took a shock four-point lead four minutes later as Dureau set up Escare to touch down, but the advantage was short-lived as Zak Hardaker broke the Dragons' line and found Briscoe for his second try.
Garbutt's first ever senior try put Leeds back in front, before Dureau ran over to put Catalans briefly back in contention.
Watkins's brilliant individual effort handed control back to the hosts, while Delaney's third try of the season gave Leeds a 14-point lead.
Briscoe completed his hat-trick shortly after, with Gigot's late score a mere consolation for Catalans, whose place in Super League was already secured.
|How the top two divisions line-up for Super 8s|
|Super League: Leeds, St Helens, Wigan, Huddersfield, Castleford, Warrington, Hull, Catalans Dragons|
|The Qualifiers: Widnes, Hull KR, Salford, Wakefield, Leigh, Bradford, Sheffield, Halifax|
Leeds coach Brian McDermott:
"We never said we needed to be top after round 23 - it's after 30 rounds which is what really matters.
"Yes we want to be top all the time but it wasn't a target for us; we certainly haven't achieved anything yet."
"He was very good; to score a hat-trick he's pretty much cracked on from where he left off before the injury.
"It wasn't the busiest game for him but when he had ball in hand he looked good with it."
Catalans coach Laurent Frayssinous:
"We challenged Leeds for 60 minutes and we didn't play that great.
"We made too many errors and that cost us in the end, but we challenged them for the most part and that's pleasing.
"It will be hard from here; you never know though. You just have to wait and see what happens.
"The results will matter of course, but when you play for the Dragons you're playing for the pride of the shirt no matter what. Whether it's in France or in England, we'll be tough to play."
Leeds Rhinos: Hardaker, Briscoe, Watkins, Keinhorst, Hall, Sinfield, Burrow, Leuluai, Aiton, Peacock, Delaney, Ablett, Singleton.
Replacements: Jones-Buchanan, Cuthbertson, McGuire, Garbutt.
Catalans Dragons: Escare, Inu, Gigot, Pomeroy, Tonga, Carney, Dureau, Elima, Henderson, Lima, Whitehead, Anderson, Baitieri.
Replacements: Pelissier, Garcia, Bousquet, Margalet.
Referee: James Child