Catalans 20-18 St Helens: Dragons win Grand Final repeat
Catalans Dragons have gone second in the Super League for 24 hours at least after victory over the defending champions St Helens at the Stade Gilbert Brutus Stadium.
Catalans made five changes to the side that was beaten in Golden Point by Castleford. Tom Davies, Julien Bousquet, Mike McMeeken, Ben Garcia and Joe Chan were all missing for the Dragons. Replacing them in the team were Mathieu Laguerre, Dean Whare, Benjamin Jullien, Alrix Da Costa and Sam Kasiano.
Meanwhile St Helens made two changes from the side that beat Leeds last week. Konrad Hurrell missed out because of illness, while Dan Norman also dropped out. Sione Mata’utia was back from suspension, while James Bell also returned.
Saints drew first blood with just five minutes on the clock. They ran the ball on the last, and put Sione Mata’utia over on the left-hand side. Tommy Makinson’s conversion attempt went wide, meaning their lead stood at four points.
Just under 10 minutes later, the champions doubled their lead. Makinson got free down the right, got the ball back from Jonny Lomax and was then able to score in the corner. His attempt went across the face of the goal.
Catalans were then dealt a blow just after the 20 minute mark. Dylan Napa was sent to the sin bin for a high tackle on Ben Davies. Davies was cleared to carry on.
Barely a minute later, Davies was back in the action. He went for a grubber kick by James Roby, but Samisoni Langi got there first to ground the ball and force a goal-line drop-out.
Catalans needed to respond, and they did just before the half-hour. They brilliantly kept the ball alive after a kick from Josh Drinkwater, and Fouad Yaha got an offload away to Mathieu Laguerre, who got the ball down in time, despite the tackle attempt from Lomax. Sam Tomkins missed the conversion attempt.
By the time the break had come, Catalans had turned the game on it’s head. Yaha got free down the left-hand side, and his kick back inside evaded everyone apart from Josh Drinkwater, who grounded the ball under the posts. Tomkins converted to put the Dragons ahead.
HT- Catalans 10-8 St Helens
It took Saints four minutes in the second half to retake the lead. Jack Welsby threw a pass over the top of the Catalans defence to Ben Davies, who was able to score in the corner. Davies then tried to convert his own try, but was unsuccessful.
Just under 10 minutes later, Catalans went in front for the second time. Matt Whitley managed to get through a gap, and give the ball to the supporting Samisoni Langi to score. Tomkins added the conversion to put the Dragons ahead by four.
The hosts then got their biggest lead of the afternoon just after the hour. Mitchell Pearce threw a pass out wide to Arthur Romano, who passed inside to Dean Whare to score. Tomkins couldn’t add the conversion though, meaning their lead stayed at eight points.
The champions needed to respond, and they did just two minutes later. Welsby managed to strip the ball from Sam Kasiano, and ran 40 metres to score. Davies scored the conversion to make it a two-point game.
St Helens had almost completed the turnaround with six minutes to go. Regan Grace got the ball out wide after they kept the ball alive well, but Arthur Romano produced a brilliant last ditch tackle to stop him from getting the ball down.
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FT- Catalans 20-18 St Helens
Both sides return to action at Magic Weekend next week. St Helens are in action against Wigan in the second game on Saturday, while Catalans face Warrington on Sunday.
Catalans: Tomkins, Laguerre, Langi, Whare, Yaha, Pearce, Drinkwater, Dudson, McIlorum, Napa, Whitley, Jullien, Goudemand. Subs: Da Costa, Seguier, Romano, Kasiano.
Tries: Laguerre, Drinkwater, Langi, Whare
Goals: Tomkins 2/4
St Helens: Bennison, Makinson, Davies, Mata’utia, Grace, Welsby, Lomax, Walmsley, Roby, Lees, Sironen, Batchelor, Knowles. Subs: Lussick, Paasi, Wingfield, Bell.
Tries: Mata’utia, Makinson, Davies, Welsby
Goals: Makinson 0/2, Davies 1/2