St Helens extend unwanted record with defeat at Catalans Dragons

Ben Olawumi
Paul Wellens

St Helens head coach Paul Wellens

Catalans’ Stade Gilbert Brutus remains an unhappy hunting ground for St Helens, whose winless Super League run in Perpignan was extended this evening with a 14-8 defeat, now without a league win away against the Dragons in six years.

The last time that Saints won a Super League game at the Brutus was back in September 2018, with each of the six visits since – including tonight – ending with a loss.

None of those six defeats were by more than 12 points, with this evening’s game being the first time since that previous victory that the Red V had been leading at half-time.

Paul Wellens’ men had been 8-6 up at the break tonight following tries from Jack Welsby & Tommy Makinson, neither of which able to be converted by captain Jonny Lomax.

They were kept scoreless in the second half by some impressive Dragons defence, none more so than Arthur Mourgue’s try-saving tackle on Lewis Dodd.

Arthur Mourgue Catalans Dragons Alamy
Arthur Mourgue scored six of Catalans Dragons’ 14 points in their Round 7 win at home against St Helens and also made a try-saving tackle

When their chance came, the hosts took it with a try from Matt Ikuvalu – converted by Mourgue – nudging Steve McNamara’s men in front. Mourgue then converted a late penalty to put the icing on victory, leaving the 1200 travelling Saints fans with an all too familiar feeling from their trips across the English Channel.

Kristian Woolf did lead the Red V to a win at the Brutus in the Challenge Cup quarter-finals in 2022, but that’s as good as it’s got since 2018, as we examine below.

St Helens extend unwanted record with defeat at Catalans Dragons

There was no trip to the south of France for Saints in 2020 due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, but here is a quick rundown on their winless run in Super League fixtures at Catalans.

April 6, 2024: Catalans Dragons 14-8 St Helens

Tonight’s game, as already mentioned, saw Saints leading at the break. It was tight throughout, but the moment Dodd was prevented from scoring the try early on in the second half by Mourgue, the tide turned.

October 6, 2023: Catalans Dragons 12-6 St Helens (Play-off semi-final)

Sam Tomkins
Sam Tomkins booked Catalans Dragons’ spot in the 2023 Super League Grand Final with his try in the semi-final against St Helens the week prior

Probably the most notable and/or memorable of the lot. Saints saw their quest for five Super League titles in a row stopped by Sam Tomkins’ last-gasp try, dancing over for the winning score in his last-ever home game as a player.

That was Catalans’ only try on a night which saw Matty Lees sin-binned for Wellens’ side, with Will Hopoate Saints’ sole try-scorer. Adam Keighran’s four goals officially made the difference, but it was Tomkins’ try which won it.

May 5, 2023: Catalans Dragons 24-12 St Helens

In last year’s regular season meeting, both sides saw men sent to the sin-bin. Sio Siua Taukeiaho was the Dragons ace sat down for 10 minutes, with Konrad Hurrell Saints’ offender.

This clash was level at 12-12 at the break after Catalans had pegged back Saints, the latter racing into a 12-0 lead with tries from Alex Walmsley & Jack Welsby before tries from Mourgue & Matt Ikuvalu squared things up. Just like tonight, the Red V were kept scoreless in the second half, with Tom Davies’ brace making the difference.

July 2, 2022: Catalans Dragons 20-18 St Helens

Josh Drinkwater
Josh Drinkwater was amongst the Catalans Dragons try-scorers as they beat St Helens at the Stade Gilbert Brutus in July 2022

As in the play-off game in 2023, and tonight’s game, there were just two points in this Round 17 match-up come the interval. Sione Mata’utia and Makinson got over for the visitors before Catalans hit back through Mathieu Laguerre & Josh Drinkwater, with Sam Tomkins’ conversion of the latter after the hooter seeing the hosts head in 10-8 to the good.

In a game which saw Dragons man Dylan Napa sin-binned, Saints youngsters Ben Davies & Welsby would score in the second half, though those efforts sandwiched a quickfire double from Samisoni Langi & Dean Whare. Only one of the four tries scored by the Red V were converted, with Tomkins’ tally of two conversions from four enough to win it.

May 22, 2021: Catalans Dragons 20-16 St Helens

This was a bit of a game of two halves, with Saints just leaving themselves too much to do in the second 40. They went into the sheds 8-2 down at the break, with their only first-half points coming via Lachlan Coote’s late penalty conversion. James Maloney had kicked a penalty himself to open the scoring for the Dragons, and then scored a try which he converted too.

The two sides exchanged tries in the second half, with Whare & Benjamin Jullien the scorers for Catalans, and Mark Percival & grabbing both of Saints’ four-pointers. With conversions included, the visitors took the second half 18-14, but the heroics of Maloney in the first 40 earned victory for the French outfit.

April 6, 2019: Catalans Dragons 18-10 St Helens

Tony Gigot
Tony Gigot scored one of Catalans Dragons’ tries when they beat St Helens at the Stade Gilbert Brutus in April 2019

The game that started this run. At the end of 2019, Saints would win the first of their four consecutive Super League titles, but one of their three league defeats that year came at the Brutus. Again, the two sides were level at the break – 10-10 – with nothing to split them.

Dominic Peyroux and Makinson had scored in the first 40 for the Saints, with Fouad Yaha and Tomkins the Dragons’ try-scorers. But familiarly, the visitors didn’t score a single point in the second half, with Catalans seeing Tony Gigot go over late on to seal the win after a penalty from Tomkins had seen them edge in front just after the restart.