St Helens edged a dramatic action-packed match 20-15 at the Gilbert Brutus Stadium in Perpignan against the Catalans to secure a vital win in the build-up towards to the Super League play-offs. The corresponding fixture between the sides in February produced one of the most dramatic climaxes to a match in Super League history, with the Dragons picking up a memorable winning try after the hooter to win 34-32 and the game in France was equally as enthralling.
The game began with the Dragons enjoying an avalanche of pressure on the Saints line with numerous penalties and repeat sets, as the Saints barely got a touch of the ball in the first 10 minutes and so it was with an air of inevitability that Vincent Duport opened the scoring for the Dragons in the 7th minute. The Frenchman was on the end of Leon Pryce’s flick to charge over the line and place the ball down. Scott Dureau’s conversion, followed by a penalty goal, after Josh Perry’s lazy arm gave away a high tackle, gave the Catalans an 8-0 lead before Saints had even had a sniff.
However, on their first attack in the Dragons half Saints hit back with Lance Hohaia dummying his way through the gap in the defence to go in under the sticks. Tommy Makinson’s goal making it 8-6 as Saints worked themselves into the game.
The match saw both sides looking dangerous with ball in hand to create chances. The Catalans had a score disallowed for a forward pass to Damien Blanche after a neat passing move to the right.And in the 30th minute, Saints took the lead with a try through Francis Meli from Hohaia’s long high pass for the Samoan winger to go over in the corner make it 10-8. St Helens nearly extended their lead but Chris Flannery was just beaten to the ball chasing a grubber kick by Cyrilc Stacul.
Catalans put themselves in front again with ex-Saint Pryce influential once again as his flick offload set up Sebastien Raguin in the corner with Dureau’s conversion giving a 4-point lead to the hosts. And just on the halftime hooter Dureau kicked a dropgoal to make it 15-10.
The second half saw St Helens dominate the early stages and Chris Flannery going over from Jonny Lomax’s assist in the 47th minute with the goal putting Saints one in front. Seven minutes later Tommy Makinson capitalised after Lance Hoahaia’s high kick to the corner caused confusion with the young winger picking up the loose ball to make it 20-15.
The game remained on a knife-edge. Catalans nearly hit back but for young French winger Damien Cardace to put down Leon Pryce’s bullet pass with the line at his mercy.
In the 69th minute video referee Ian Smith denied Sebastien Raguin, deciding after a long consultation that there had been a knock-on in the lead-up by Daryl Millard.
Catalans kept up the pressure forcing repeat sets and enjoying a wealth of possession in the Saints half. With the Dragons hunting Tony Puletua put in a shoulder-charge on Gregory Mounis which resulted in referee Ben Thaler sending the Saints forward off due to contact with the head. The shoulder-charge has been a controversial issue within the game in recent seasons and the decision signals consistency within the refereeing policy this year with previous similar incidents also seeing dismissals.
Catalans kept probing for the winner against the now 12-man Saints and Damien Cardace toucjed the ball down in the corner. However, the try went to the video referee and Daryl Millard was deemed to have obstrcuted Tommy Makinson whilst competing for the ball in a highly debateable decision and the try was disallowed much to the chagrin of the home fans.
With the clock ticking down in the 78th minute Jon Wilkin touched the ball down for Saints after an apparent knock-on by Loui McCarthy-Scarsbrook with the video referee conforming that the Cockney prop had lost the ball forwards. Hohaia then sliced a dropgoal attemot wide to give the Catalans one last chance in the game’s last minute.
With thoughts turning to the dramatic events at Langtree Park in February the Dragons threatened to stage another dramatic last-gasp repeat as they spread the ball out wide. However, the last play kick to the corner fell harmlessly into Francis Meli’s arms for Saints to hold on for a superb win to go ahead of the Dragons into 3rd on points difference.
- Widnes Vikings posted their biggest win of the season thrashing Salford City Reds 46-8 in their first away win of the year. Cameron Phelps, Patrick Ah Van and Rhys Hanbury each picked up braces with tries from onloan Paul McShane and Danny Craven to give the Vikings the comprehensive win as they look to be finding their feet in the top-flight in the latter parts of the season.
Super League XVII Round Twenty-One results:
Catalans Dragons 15-20 St Helens
Salford City Reds 8-46 Widnes Vikings
Leeds Rhinos 34-16 Bradford Bulls
London Broncos 6-44 Wigan Warriors
Huddersfield Giants 14-35 Wakefield Trinity Wildcats
Castleford Tigers 26-40 Warrington Wolves
Hull KR 18-32 Hull FC
Round Two re-arranged match:
Catalans Dragons 44-14 Hull FC (played last Saturday)