Catalans cause an upset against St Helens to reach Challenge Cup final

Photo courtesy of Richard Long

Challenge Cup favourites St Helens were knocked out of the Challenge Cup after losing to Catalans in the semi-finals.

St Helens coach Justin Holbrook made two changes to his side that beat Warrington Wolves in Super League last week. Adam Swift and Matty Lees came in for Ryan Morgan and Dom Peyroux.

Steve McNamara made seven changes to his Catalans Dragons outfit that lost at Wigan Warriors last time out. Lewis Tierney, David Mead, Josh Drinkwater, Mikael Simon, Benjamin Jullien, Ben Garcia and Remy Casty replaced Jodie Broughton, Iain Thornley, Lucas Albert, Greg Bird, Antoni Maria, Alrix Da Costa and Mickael Goudemand.

Catalans took an early lead at the University of Bolton Stadium. St Helens were penalised for holding Sam Moa down for too long in the tackle and the French side opted to take the two as a result. Drinkwater added the penalty goal to edge his side into a 2-0 lead.

The Dragons extended their lead midway through the first half. The ball was passed to winger Tierney who did very well to get past Ben Barba and finish in the corner. Drinkwater converted from the touchline.

Catalans were on top of Saints in the first half and a lovely delayed pass from Drinkwater saw Garcia reach over the line.

And in the 33rdminute, Tony Gigot added a drop-goal to give his side a 13-0 advantage.

Saints were dealt a blow a couple of minutes later as Wales international Morgan Knowles was sin-binned for a high tackle on Kenny Edwards. On the back of the high shot, Drinkwater added a penalty goal.

McNamara’s men scored two more tries late on in the first half through Gigot and Garcia. Drinkwater converted both tries, and the Dragons were 27-0 to the good at half-time.

Catalans stretched their lead shortly after the restart. Saints were caught interfering at the play-the-ball and Drinkwater kicked another penalty goal, St Helens 0-29 Catalans after 44 minutes.

St Helens got their first try of the game in the 50thminute. Barba slipped Mark Percival through a gap to score.

Holbrook’s side were in again just a few sets later. Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook burst onto a pass from Richardson to touch down. Richardson converted but Saints still trailed 29-10.

Catalans hit back with a try on the hour mark. Tonga star Moa went on a barnstorming run to power over the line. Drinkwater’s boot took the score to 35-10.

Percival got his second of the afternoon and Barba got his second, but they were 19 points behind with just 13 minutes remaining.

The game fizzled out towards the end and Catalans progressed to the Challenge Cup final with a remarkable 35-16 victory over St Helens.

St Helens: Barba; Swift, Makinson, Percival, Grace; Lomax, Richardson; Amor, Roby, Thompson, Knowles, Taia, Wilkin. Subs: Fages, McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Douglas, Lees.

Catalans: Gigot; Tierney, Mead, Wiliame, Yaha; Langi, Drinkwater; Simon, McIlorum, Moa, Jullien, Garcia, Casty. Subs: Bousquet, Anderson, Edwards, Baitieri.

Starman: Josh Drinkwater was superb for Catalans, but the vote goes to Benjamin Jullien, who got through a hell of a lot of work in the back-row.

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