CASTLEFORD HOLD ON TO BEAT CATALAN
Castleford Tigers managed to hold on and beat the Catalan Dragons 34-28 after a late fightback from the French outfit. This was the first win for the Tigers over in the South of France for six years. It was a very strange game indeed this one. Both sides had absolutely nothing to play for, except pride. Yet, it was one of the more exciting games in recent weeks. Castleford led from the start and never looked like slipping up. However, in the final 20 minutes, the Dragons found some passion and flair and began to play some Rugby, but it was too late.
Castleford got off to a great start when Hampshire’s long pass allowed Paddy Flynn to crash through two Catalan players to score the games first try. Catalans hit back a few minutes later following a penalty from the Tigers. This gave the Dragons some great field position and it was the former Tigers player, Oliver Elima who powered his way over to draw his side level.
Castleford started to gain full control of the game at this point, and the Dragons just seemed to be on their holidays already. I’m sure its not the send off that the Catalan fans would’ve wanted in their final home game of the season. Also, with a few players retiring and leaving at the end of the season, it wasn’t the greatest performance for these players to bow out on.
SUBLIME SOLOMONA BREAKS THE RECORD
In the 20th minute of the game, Solomona went over in the corner to equal Vainikolo’s record of 36 tries in a season. It’s something that he has been looking to do for a couple of weeks now. More importantly, it gave Castleford the lead in the game. Only 2 minutes later, Solomona wrote his name into Super League history when he went over again in the corner to score his 37th try of the season, and finally beat Vainikolo’s record, that has been held for 12 years.
At this stage, Castleford were in cruise control, and on the half-hour mark, Ben Crooks came on as a substitute to further the Tigers lead. Catalans discipline, as ever this season, really cost them during this game. It’s been a common trait of theirs in the latter end of the season and it really has been confusing to watch as a neutral. They had such a good start to the season and looked to be a real threat for the Grand Final. However, they hit a few snags with injuries and some tough defeats, then that seemed to end their season.
Catalans did get a try back just before halftime through Glenn Stewart. It was a superb run from Stewart, who fought off a few Tigers defenders to power his way over for the try. Catalans had another chance before halftime, but couldn’t quite get through the Tigers defence. Castleford held strong and went 24-10 up at halftime, in what was a pretty strong half from the Tigers.
DRAGONS LEAVE IT TOO LATE
To stand any chance of getting something from this game, you’d think that the Dragons would come out strong and look to get an early try. However, they knocked on with their first play, gave away a penalty and allowed the Tigers upfield to go over for an early try of their own. It was Ben Crooks yet again who went over for his second try as he easily got on the end of Gale’s grubber kick.
I don’t think Castleford had an easier game all season, they were in cruise control and were just dominating the game, both in attack and defence. Tigers furthered their lead in the 54th minute when Paddy Flynn went over in the corner for a deserved try. Things went from bad to worse for the Dragons when in the 61st minute, Ben Garcia was sent to the sin-bin for a punch to Jake Webster. With 15 minutes to go, Castleford led 34-10 and looked in no danger of letting that slip.
However, Catalans started to play some rugby for the first time in the game and managed to score three tries in just under 10 minutes through Pelissier, Anderson and Myler who’s tries were all successfully converted by Gigot and Catalans now only trailed the Tigers by 34-28, with 4 minutes to go. It was a crazy fightback from the Dragons, one which seemed impossible only 10 minutes prior. Coach, Laurent Frayssinous must have been so bemused with his sides finish to the game. He must be thinking, why could they not do that for the previous 60 minutes?
Castleford held on for the final 4 minutes, despite all of Catalans efforts. While it may not mean so much in relation to the season for Tigers, it was a fantastic day for Daryl Powell’s men. Solomona beat the try record, Castleford stopped the rot in the South of France and this win means that Castleford can leapfrog Catalans into 5th if they win their final game next week at home to Widnes, and the Dragons lose away at Wigan. It would be a cracking end to a great season for the Tigers, one in which they can certainly improve on next season.
IN THE SHEDS
Catalan’s Ben Garcia was sent to the sin-bin in the 61st minute for a punch to Jake Webster, while on the floor.
Catalans Dragons: (10) 28
Tries: Elima, Stewart, Pelissier, Anderson, Myler
Goals: Gigot 4/5
Castleford Tigers: (24) 34
Tries: Flynn 2, Solomona 2, Crooks 2
Goals: Gale 5/6
Catalans Dragons: Gigot; Sigismeau, Garcia, Duport, Broughton; Stewart, Myler; Anderson, Mounis, Horo, Elima, Aiton, Casty.
Replacements: Taylor, Bousquet, Pelissier, Seguier.
Castleford Tigers: Dorn; Flynn, Minikin, Webster, Solomona; Hampshire, Gale; Patrick, McShane, Cook, Savelio, O. Holmes, Milner.
Replacements: Crooks, McMeeken, Maher, Douglas.
Referee: Phil Bentham
Venue: Stade Gilbert Brutus
Date/Time: Saturday 17th September 2016 – 17:00pm GMT