Catalans Dragons 13-12 Castleford Tigers
Tries: Escare, Whitehead
Goals: Dureau (2)
Drop Goals: Dureau
Tries: Carney, Tansey
Goals: Gale (2)
Scott Dureau marked his long-awaited return to the Catalans side with a late drop-goal to give the Dragons their first win of the season.
Dureau made just one appearance for the French side last season and his return inspired his side to victory in a tough and often scrappy affair at the Stade Gilbert Brutus.
Justin Carney’s first half try meant that Castleford led 6-0 at the break, but Morgan Escare and Elliot Whitehead responded for Catalans in the second half. Jordan Tansey’s try eight minutes from time made the game all square at 12-apiece, before Dureau’s late drop goal gave the home side victory.
The only score in the first half came on 11 minutes when a beautifully weighted kick into the corner from Castleford debutant Ben Roberts was collected by Justin Carney. The Australian showed class to keep himself in the field of play and touched down to open the scoring. Luke Gale converted.
Two dubious video-referee decisions then followed which could easily have been awarded as tries. Zeb Taia looked to have gone over for the Dragons but was deemed to have been held up by three Tigers defenders. Then at the other end, Luke Gale’s high kick into the corner was collected by Denny Solomona ahead of the unassertive Vincent Duport, but the Castleford winger was ruled offside with no video evidence picturing his starting position from Gale’s kick.
Five minutes before half time a brawl from the players saw Eloi Pelissier, Olivier Elima and Jake Webster sin-binned for fighting with the whole incident going on report. Neither side took advantage of the extra space made available by the trio’s absence and Cas led 6-0 at the interval.
The Dragons returned a different outfit in the second half and an interception from Dureau on 44 minutes looked to have put Catalans on the scoreboard. The half-back marginally put his foot into touch however before he touched the ball down in the corner.
The Australian soon made up for his error however when his kick through on 46 minutes was collected by Morgan Escare who scored his 5th try in his last four games against the Tigers.
A couple of minutes later the full-back was part of the action again as he received the backlash of a high tackle from Justin Carney whilst at full speed. Referee James Child awarded Catalans the penalty and Dureau opted for goal, giving the Dragons an 8-6 advantage.
Quick play in the corner from the home side on 64 minutes saw Elliot Whitehead go over to extend their lead. Crucially, Dureau missed the conversion to still give Cas an opportunity to get back into the game at 12-6.
It was a chance they took on 72 minutes when Carney broke through the Catalans line and found Jordan Tansey on his inside who ran 30 metres to put the Tigers back in the game. Gale converted to bring the scores level.
The match appeared to be heading for a draw before Dureau’s drop-goal four minutes from time gave the Dragons the two points.
Castleford have now lost their last five matches in the south of France. It was also the second week running they’ve been marginally beaten and Daryl Powell’s men will need to find a way to win these close matches if they are to compete for honours at the end of the season.