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Match Report: Catalans Dragons vs St Helens

It was the Challenge Cup Winners against the League Leaders as St Helens once again looked to move closer to securing top spot, and also revenge against the Dragons in Perpignan on Saturday afternoon.

Both James Roby and Ben Barba were missing for the away side and with Catalans being at home for the first time since their Wembley success the Stade Gilbert Brutus was buzzing, as they hoped for a home victory.

The Dragons were physically dominant as they forced a forward pass from the Saints for a scrum just 35 metres out from the line.

The fifth tackle kick was collected by Mark Percival as he and Jonny Lomax managed to take the first tackle by the half-way line but the set came to nothing as Catalans defended well.

Saints conceded the first penalty of the afternoon after Fages stripped the ball in a two-man tackle on Greg Bird.

It was this penalty that led to the first try of the afternoon as Bird powered Catalans to within a metre of the Saints line and it was David Mead who picked the ball up from dummy-half and pounced over the line for an early Dragons lead.

Josh Drinkwater missed the conversion as Catalans lead 4-0 after 10 minutes.

Danny Richardson was caught on the fifth tackle play by the Dragons and they set up inside the Saints half once more.

This set the home side up to score once more as a loose flick-back from Drinkwater was picked up by the Dragons captain Remi Casty, who crashed over. Drinkwater converted to make it a 10-0 lead for the French side.

Saints did cross the line themselves as Mark Percival finished off a fifth tackle play including a classy catch-and-pass from Jonny Lomax and, despite a forward pass in the build-up, a try was awarded by the TMO for his first try in three months.

Richardson nailed the conversion for the Saints to make it 10-6.

Saints almost levelled the scores in just the next set but a forward pass from Lomax to Percival denied the centre a second try in as many minutes.

Lance Todd Trophy winner Tony Gigot nailed a beautiful open play kick which Lomax dealt with but couldn’t stop himself sliding into touch on the slippery surface.

Kenny Edwards was the next player to cross over, but the try was denied after Casty obstructed Jon Wilkin and the Dragons were penalised.

The Dragons conceded another penalty just 10 metres from their own line as David Mead was called offside, but Morgan Knowles was held-up on tackle three in the set that followed. This allowed Regan Grace to cross in the left hand corner but the try was called but for yet another obstruction by Zeb Taia on Greg Bird.

Liam Moore was using the TMO perfectly as the right call had been made three times in a row.

Saints were then penalised for offside and Josh Drinkwater took the points on offer to make to 12-6 to Catalans after 27 minutes.

St Helens were getting frustrated after having a few decisions go against them and it was Mark Percival who conceded a high tackle and it caused the game to get a little bit tasty towards the end of the first half.

Saints were determined not to go into the break behind as on the fifth tackle they threw the ball around and it was Theo Fages stepped and danced through the Catalans defence to slide under the posts and score against his former side. Richardson slotted the easy conversion to make it 12 points a piece with eight minutes to go until the break.

Young hooker Aaron Smith had just come onto the field as he was hammered late by Sam Moa, and the Samoan prop was penalised and shown a yellow card. Danny Richardson was kicked the penalty as Saints took a two point lead. Smith stayed on the field despite receiving treatment on the field on being in the ground for a good few minutes.

With the home-side now down to 12-men the Dragons were making up for the disadvantage with some huge hits and Jason Baitieri was penalised for a high tackle and Saints reset inside the Catalans half.

The Dragons defence couldn’t hold on this time as Matty Lees powered over with Gigot and Casty on his back, but once again the try was disallowed by the TMO with Lees deemed to have made two efforts to ground the ball.

Catalans broke down the left hand edge and were gifted a fresh-set of six after a knock-on by Lomax during his defensive efforts. Kenny Edwards was just about to dot the ball over the Saints line on the brink of half-time but a joint effort from Lomax and Matty Costello forced the Dragons centre to drop the ball and Liam Moore blew for half-time.

Half-time: Catalans Dragons 12-14 St Helens

Three minutes into the second half, the two teams squared up to each other but no punches were thrown. Sam Moa also returned to the field.

The now 13-man Dragons took the lead not shortly afterwards aswell, as Tony Gigot threw a pin-perfect pass to Iain Thornley on the left wing who scored his first Super League try of the season.Josh Drinkwater converted from the touchline to double the Catalans lead to four.

Catalans extended their lead as Kenny Edwards did manage to touch the ball down over the line as he bumped off Richardson and Costello to accelerate into the gap created. Drinkwater failed with the conversion as Catalans lead 22-14 after 54 minutes.

The lead was nearly cut short just a minute later though as David Mead made a try-saving tackle on youngster Aaron Smith forced the knock-on from the hooker.

However, the play was bought back for a Saints scrum as the original mistake by Baitieri allowed Smith to break. Catalans did manage to hold on once again though.

With an hour gone, Catalans still lead by eight and were certainly the most dominant team as the powerful defence forced a knock-on from Louis McCarthy-Scarsbrook.

The next ten minutes were very much back-and-forth and the game got more niggly with each and every tackle.

Saints so very nearly made there way back into the game but Regan Grace couldn’t hold onto the ball as Greg Bird made a try-saving tackle to take the Welsh international into touch.

However, Saints did manage to cut the lead just minutes later and Mark Percival managed to get an offload away in the tackle and Lomax scored under the posts. Once again the pass seemed to go forward but the referee was in a good position to see and deemed it backwards. Richardson converted to make to 22-20 to Catalans with eight extremely tense minutes remaining.

Catalans conceded a penalty as Lomax was caught high but the Catalans defence managed to hold on once more.

As the game entered the final five minutes Saints were in the ascendancy but seemed to only be going sideways. That was until Morgan Knowles managed to beat three tackles and ground the ball over the Catalans line to take a late lead after collecting a short Jonny Lomax pass.

Danny Richardson converted the try so that Saints took a four-point lead with just one minute of the game remaining.

Catalans tried the short kick-off but failed to regain the ball and Saints wrapped up the win with an absolutely cracking comeback against Catalans Dragons. However, the League Leaders shield will have to wait another week for Saints as Wigan could still catch their closest rivals.

Full-Time: Catalans Dragons 22-26 St Helens

My Man of the Match: Jonny Lomax – The Saints number one deputised for Ben Barba at full-back for the Saints and showed the fans why they don’t have to worry about the Australians departure. His quick hands, quick feet and solid defence created a platform for Saints to attack from and was the heart of most of Saints tries, even grabbing one himself.

Catalans Dragons:

Gigot, Tierney, Mead, Williame, Thornley, Langi, Drinkwater, Simon, McIlorum, Moa, Bird, Edwards, Casty.

Subs: Bosquet, Baitieri, Da Costa, Goudemand.

Scorers:

Tries: Mead, Casty, Thornley, Edwards

Goals: Drinkwater (3/5)

Yellow Cards: Sam Moa

St Helens:

Lomax, Makinson, Costello, Percival, Grace, Fages, Richardson, Amor, Knowles, Thompson, Taia, McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Wilkin.

Subs: Douglas, Lees, Ashworth, Smith

Scorers:

Tries: Percival, Fages, Lomax, Knowles

Goals: Richardson (5/5)

Featured Image: @Saints1890 (twitter)

 

 

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