Catalans cantered to their third Super League victory of the season with a 42-6 win against a sorry-looking Salford in Perpignan.
Richard Marshall’s side looked tired and torn after a tough start to their campaign and three league defeats on the bounce, albeit to strong sides, will be causing concern for the new Salford coach.
The first team to travel to France since the COVID-19 chaos of 2020, Salford hit the ground flat-footed against a powerful Catalans team on home turf at Stade Gilbert Brutus for the first time since last October.
The Dragons were too fast and too strong and four straight wins in league and cup have put a spring in the step of Steve McNamara’s side.
A second-half hat-trick for winger Fouad Yaha and a brilliant goal-kicking performance by stand-off James Maloney destroyed the Red Devils.
Catalans captain Ben Garcia opened the scoring by forcing his way between the posts in the 12th minute, then centre Samisoni Langi crossed in the left corner after Sam Tomkins split the Salford defence on halfway. Maloney added a penalty after 27 minutes and the Dragons were 14-0 ahead.
Three minutes later Mike McMeeken broke through the visitors’ line on halfway and released Josh Drinkwater to stride over the line untouched, Maloney’s conversion making it 20-0.
Salford staged a mini-revival after a series of penalties put them on the offensive but too often the ball was lost or passed into touch.
The Red Devils have had a tough start to the season against strong opposition in St Helens and Hull FC and they looked visibly tired as the half-time hooter approached.
It was more of the same in the second half as Catalans took advantage of two early penalties to press the Salford line and Tomkins and Langi combined to put winger Yaha in at the left corner, Maloney’s touchline conversion making it 26-0.
A Matt Whitley ball-steal then led to McMeeken delivering an outrageous one-handed reverse pass to put winger Tom Davies in on the right, Maloney again converting for 32-0.
Catalans could afford to wait until the 53rd minute before they released hooker Michael McIlorum from the bench following his five-match suspension but it must have inspired Salford as Harvey Livett turned the tide with a powerful burst and try, converted by Morgan Escare.
But the Dragons hit back with Yaha picking up a loose ball from short range for his second try, Maloney’s seventh conversion pushing the scoreline to 38-6.
The left-winger then completed his hat-trick, Maloney missing his first conversion of the evening from the touchline.