A Ben Barba-inspired St Helens recorded their second win of the campaign with a dramatic 21-12 victory over Catalans- despite spending most of the second-half down to 12 men.
The visitors-who had Morgan Knowles sent off after 52 minutes for a tip-tackle on Thibaud Margalet- went ahead after just two minutes when Jonny Lomax was on hand to finish off Barba’s smart break.
The Saints full-back was the catalyst for their second score 20 minutes in, throwing a sublime cut-out pass to winger Regan Grace who finished smartly in the left-hand corner to make it 12-0.
Steve McNamara’s men halved the deficit eight minutes into the second half when David Mead out-muscled three defenders to touch down for his second try of the season, before Knowles saw red for his dangerous lift on Margalet.
The man advantage lasted only two minutes however as Benjamin Jullien was sent for 10 minutes in the sin-bin following a crusher tackle on Lomax, before Adam Swift evaded Lewis Tierney and Greg Bird to restore the visitors’ 12-point lead.
Alrix Da Costa capitalised on slack defending from the St Helens markers’ to dart over from close range, giving the hosts a small chance of turning the game around.
However, the impressive Danny Richardson slotted a drop-goal over seven minutes from time to quash any chance of a comeback, before adding a penalty after the final hooter as Justin Holbrook’s side recorded their second win of the season.
Knowles Sees Rouge
It was quite-possibly the main talking point of what was an exhilarating contest in the South of France. Although it was clear that the young forward did not mean it, he lifted Margalet beyond the horizontal and paid the price, spending the rest of the game on the sidelines.
Worry for the Dragons
Although Steve McNamara can reflect on a vastly-improved performance compared to last week’s drubbing at the hands of Widnes, he may still rue the Dragons’ inability to claim the points, despite having a man extra for almost a quarter of the game.
Admittedly, the French side only had five weeks together as a full squad- the least of any side in the competition- due to the amount of players on World Cup duty, they need to improve quickly if they are to avoid another season of fighting for their survival.
Richardson Runs The Show
Although Ben Barba showed his class once-more with two try assists, it was perhaps Richardson who caught the eye most.
The 21-year old may have made less than 20 appearances in Super League but he showed game-management far beyond his tender years.
He is keeping Theo Fages out of the starting line-up for a reason, and Justin Holbrook will know that, with the right development, Richardson can become a mainstay of this Saints side for many years to come.
Catalans Dragons 12
Tries: Mead, Da Costa
Goals: Albert 2/2
Drop Goals: n/a
St Helens 21
Tries: Lomax, Grace, Swift
Goals: Richardson 4/4
Drop Goals: n/a
Dragons: Mead, Broughton, Thornley, Williame, Tierney, Bird, Albert, Casty, McIlorum, Simon, Jullien, Garcia, Baitieri
Subs: Bousquet, Margalet, Maria, Da Costa
Saints: Barba, Grace, Percival, Swift, Makinson, Lomax, Richardson, Douglas, Roby, Thompson, Wilkin, Taia, Peyroux
Subs: Fages, Walmsley, Knowles, McCarthy-Scarsbrook
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