Catalans 26-6 Wakefield: Dragons progress to quarter-finals of Challenge Cup

Catalans Dragons swept aside Wakefield for the second year in a row to book their place in the last eight of the Betfred Challenge Cup with a 26-6 victory at St Helens.

Wales prop Gil Dudson scored his first try for the club as the 2018 winners followed up their 36-24 win over Trinity a year ago with an even more convincing win at the Totally Wicked Stadium.

Wakefield’s misery was compounded by the loss of star winger Tom Johnstone with a head knock at half-time, while injuries to full-back Max Jowitt and hooker Josh Wood caused further disruption for coach Chris Chester.

The Dragons led only 8-6 at the break but dominated the game after half-time to score three unanswered tries thanks largely to another man-of-the-match display from full-back Sam Tomkins.

The reward for Steve McNamara’s team is a quarter-final against Swinton or Warrington, who play their third-round tie at Heywood Road on Sunday.

Wakefield created the first scoring opportunity when lively scrum-half Mason Lino breached the Dragons defence only to lose the ball in Sam Tomkins’ tackle five metres out from the line.

The in-form Tomkins, who strengthened his case for the England number one jersey in front of coach Shaun Wane, was heavily involved throughout and scored the first try, stretching out of a two-man tackle after 15 minutes.

James Maloney added the conversion and kicked a penalty after Trinity loose forward Joe Westerman was pulled up for a high tackle in front of the posts on Jason Baitieri.

Alrix Da Costa in action for Catalans

But Wakefield were well in the contest and briefly levelled the scores when danger man Johnstone found space out wide and cleverly kicked ahead for Lino to touch down for his first try for the club, which he also converted.

Trinity ought to have been in front by half-time after centre Bill Tupou gave Johnstone a sight of the corner but Catalans’ former Wigan winger Tom Davies came up with a superb try-saving tackle.

Sadly, Johnstone suffered a head knock in the tackle and, after failing his HIA, did not return for the second half so Chester was forced to switch Tupou to the wing and move Matty Ashurst from the pack to centre.

The disruption unhinged the Yorkshire side who fell further behind 10 minutes into the second half when Josh Drinkwater took a pass from Maloney to dummy his way over for his side’s second try.

As the French team stepped up the tempo, Tomkins and hooker Alrix Da Costa were both held up over the line and second-rower Mike McMeeken had a try disallowed by the video referee for an obstruction in the build-up by Davies.

The pressure finally told in the 62nd minute when Tomkins and McMeeken combined to get Davies in at the corner and three minutes later Dudson was put through a gap by skipper Ben Garcia for the Catalans’ fourth try.

Maloney took his goal tally to five from as many attempts to increase the lead to 26-6 and Chester was forced into more changes when Jowitt went off with a head knock and Wood followed him to the sidelines two minutes from the end with an elbow injury.

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