Catalans 18-30 Huddersfield: Giants spoil Dragons’ League Leaders’ Shield party

Jack Cogger got on the scoresheet for Huddersfield
On a night of high emotion at Stade Gilbert Brutus, Dragons coach Steve McNamara allowed several young French players their chance to shine, Arthur Mourgue replacing Sam Tomkins at full-back and Cesar Rouge in for Michael McIlorum at hooker.

And it was the Dragons who got the first try. A 60-metre sprint from Mathieu Laguerre and Romain Franco was switched to the left by a James Maloney kick and Matt Whitley collected to cross. Maloney’s conversion made it 6-0 after 15 minutes.

Three minutes later Laguerre collected a Josh Drinkwater high-kick and shook off Jake Wardle to ground the ball over the line in the left corner, Maloney again on target with the conversion.

Then Maloney launched a towering kick to the right corner where winger Tom Davies tapped the ball back to Whitley for his second try, Maloney adding his third conversion to make it 18-0.

Huddersfield hit back with a blistering run from Josh Jones, whose pass to Oliver Russell came straight back with a kick over the line for Jones to pounce and score. Russell added the conversion to keep the Giants in the contest.

The Giants then forced Davies into touch five metres from his own line but full-back Olly Ashall-Bott fumbled on attack, letting the Dragons off the hook.

But Russell was on target with his next kick to the line, winger Louis Senior collected, grounded and the Giants’ half-back was accurate with his conversion to make it 18-12 just before half-time.

Russell was at the heart of early pressure from the Giants in the second half and it took 10 minutes before Jack Cogger crossed, with Russell levelling the scores with his conversion.

Ashall-Bott struck another try straight from the kick-off with a mesmerising 45-metre dash, shrugging off four defenders, with Russell again on target to silence the French crowd, putting Huddersfield ahead for the first time in the game at 18-24.

The killer blow was struck 10 minutes from the end when prop Matty English forced his way between the posts for a try, giving Russell an easy shot at goal and putting the Giants 12 points in front, and Huddersfield were full value for the victory.

The defeat could not take the gloss off emotional scenes which followed the final hooter as supporters cheered the first-ever Super League table-topping trophy for a French side, looking forward to their next match at the Brutus, a semi-final which could see the Dragons take an even more historic step forward with a potential victory and appearance in a Grand Final.

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