Josh Drinkwater influential as Catalans Dragons proceed to semis

Photo courtesy of Richard Long

Half-back Josh Drinkwater inspires his side with right-boot as Catalan Dragons proceed to the semi finals after defeating Huddersfield Giants 20-6. 

Tries from David Mead and Greg Bird, alongside four penalty kicks from Drinkwater, was enough to separate the two sides which will see Catalans travel to Bolton for the semi-finals double header.

Simon Woolford took charge of his first game as head coach of the Yorkshire side, whilst captain Leroy Cudjoe returned to the Giants after missing the entire season so far with an injury.

Latest recruit Kenny Edwards was named on the bench for the travelling side as Bird was named in the halves with Drinkwater.

A penalty goal just minutes into the fixture opened the scoring, as half-back Drinkwater converted the chance to give his side an early 2-0 lead.

Young winger Darnell McIntosh looked like he was about to run 80m to score the first try of the game, but he was caught from behind by Lewis Tierney and the chance was soon ruined after the home side dropped the ball.

Prop forward Edwards entered the field to make his Catalans debut following an injury to veteran Bird, who was treated with a cut to his face in the 16th minute.

Drinkwater again extended the French side’s lead in the 38th minute, as Remi Casty was awarded a penalty in front of the sticks to see the side go 4-0 ahead at the half-time break.

It took until the 42nd minute for the first try of the Cup clash, with captain Cudjoe marking his return with a try in the corner following swift back-play from the Giants. Danny Brough converted to give the John Smith Stadium side the lead for the first time at 6-4.

It didn’t take the Dragons long to reply, with Papua New Guinea captain Mead bouncing on a mistake from young McIntosh in the air to crash over the try line and re-take the lead, converted by Drinkwater for a 10-6 lead.

Drinkwater’s right boot struck again, converting a penalty just over 20m from the sticks to take Steve McNamara’s side to 12-6 and a step closer to a victory.

Sebastine Ikahihifo’s second crucial penalty of the game saw Catalan’s number 33 take the two once again, converting his fourth goal to give his side an 8-point lead.

A repeat set after the home side cleared their goal line saw Bird take the second chance, as the utility player returned to the field in the second half to display a sweet step and dive to the left of the sticks. Drinkwater converted to make the score 20-6.

Half-back Brough crossed the line in 69th minute for Huddersfield, looking to redeem himself from his earlier sending off. However, the try was chalked off due to obstruction by the video referee.

Garcia was soon next to find himself in the bin following a low tackle that bent the attacking opposition in a dangerous position in the last 10 minutes of the game.

Winger and former Wigan player Tierney looked set to dive into the corner and confirm the victory in the dying minutes of game, but McIntosh try-saving effort denied the chance.

However it was too little too late as Steve McNamara’s side will progress into the semi-finals with a 20-6 victory.

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