Catalans Dragons inflicted more misery on Huddersfield Giants, with a barnstorming second half display on Easter Monday.
Catalans Dragons picked up a crucial win with 23 unanswered second-half points to beat Huddersfield Giants.
The first half was a poor affair lacking quality, as might be expected in such a significant game at the bottom of Super League.
However, Steve McNamara’s side turned the screw in the second half to see off a depleted, tired Giants team.
The visitors were already missing a whole host of players, and Danny Brough was added to that list as he missed out with an ankle injury. There were two more debuts, with Colton Roche making his first league start for the Giants along with 17-year-old Innes Senior.
Despite that it was they who had the lead at half-time. After an uneventful first quarter, Jordan Turner played a great pass to Aaron Murphy who ran inside full-back David Mead to score.
Catalans’ response was immediate, with Jodie Broughton diving in at the left corner. The conversion wasn’t successful, leaving the Giants two points ahead.
That lead could have been increased, only for the video referee to deny Murphy a second, before Mead pulled off a try-saving tackle on Jordan Rankin before the break.
Many would have expected a tight second half to follow, but instead Catalans raced in for three tries inside the first 12 minutes back on the field to turn the game their way.
First, Tony Gigot’s long chip was knocked back by Fouad Yaha for Benjamin Jullien to score a good try within two minutes of the restart.
Then Greg Bird broke through the defence, before offloading to Mead on his outside to score. He then grabbed a second, as Samisoni Langi’s break led to Gigot sending the fullback clear.
Four minutes after a controversial video referee decision had denied him, Broughton had a brace of his own, before Gigot added a late penalty and drop goal.
The loss sees Giants remain 10th, while Catalans are still bottom but level with Hull KR and with increased confidence from their second half display.
WHAT WE’VE LEARNED
SIGNS OF LIFE IN PERPIGNAN
There was plenty of optimism coming from the South of France ahead of the new season as a host of new signings, including Mead and Michael McIlorum, boosted hopes of a successful season after only earning their Super League status in the Million Pound Game last year.
Just one win from their opening eight games left Steve McNamara’s job in peril, and defeat here may have been the end. However, his players responded to win this one, registering more points in the second half than they have in any whole game so far this season.
They are a long way still from where they need to be to even make the top eight, but it is a crucial win for the Dragons. They’ll need all the confidence they can get with a tough set of fixtures ahead of them, starting with the visit of Wigan on Saturday.
STEP TOO FAR FOR DEPLETED GIANTS
Every Huddersfield player put in a remarkable shift to earn a point against Leeds on Friday, but the short turnaround, travel, and overpopulated treatment room left them with too big a task here.
The pack were visibly struggling following their huge effort on Friday against the champions, while Shannon Wakeman and Roche made their first Super League appearances this season. They competed well enough in the first half but the fatigue was obvious in the second.
Along with Kruise Leeming, Tom Symonds and Roberts missing up front, the Giants were without Jake Mamo, Jermaine McGillvary, Leroy Cudjoe, and Lee Gaskell, along with Brough whose absence was most felt as Huddersfield struggled to ever get a real foothold in the game or create chances.
Man Of The Match- Greg Bird (Catalans)
A number of Catalans players stood out in the second half in particular, with Gigot looking very effective from stand-off, while Mead and Broughton both bagged two tries.
However, control of the match was won by the forwards and none of them impressed as much as Bird, who as one of the big names in the side is coming to the fore to wake them out of their early season slumber.
WHAT THEY ARE SAYING
Catalans Dragons head coach Steve McNamara:
“I thought in the first half we looked okay but we looked a bit anxious, but in the second half we played really well.
“We had to have some desperate defence just to keep Huddersfield out, just before half-time, and I think that kept us in the contest at that stage.
“For me the most pleasing thing tonight was conceding only one try, which has been an issue for us all season.”
Catalans Dragons 27
Tries: Broughton (2), Jullien, Mead (2)
Goals: Gigot (3)
Drop Goals: Gigot
Huddersfield Giants 6
Drop Goals: n/a
Catalans Dragons: Mead; Broughton, Thornley, Wiliame, Yaha; Gigot, Langi; Casty, McIlorum, Moa; Anderson, Jullien, Bird.
Interchanges: Aiton, Bousquet, Simon, Baitieri.
Huddersfield Giants: McIntosh; Simpson, Mellor, Murphy, I Senior; Turner, Rankin; Ikahihifo, O’Brien, Clough; Ferguson, Lawrence, Smith.
Interchanges: Wakeman, Hinchcliffe, Ta’ai, Roche.
Referee: Scott Mikalauskas