Catalans Dragons 40-40 Salford Red Devils
Tries: Taia, Duport, Pomeroy (2), Oldfield, Whitehead, Henderson
Goals: Dureau (6)
Tries: Sa’u, J.Griffin, Paterson (2), Lee, Fages, Chase
Goals: J.Griffin (6)
A late Josh Griffin penalty rescued a point for Salford in a thrilling and high-scoring contest at the Stade Gilbert Brutus.
Tries from Junior Sa’u, Josh Griffin, Cory Paterson and Tommy Lee had put the visitors 22-0 up after 20 minutes but the Dragons responded through tries from Zeb Taia, Vincent Duport and Ben Pomeroy before half-time.
The game swung back and forth in the second period before an Ian Henderson try on 72 minutes put Catalans 40-32 ahead. However, Paterson’s second try of the game and Griffin’s late penalty ensured the points were shared.
The Red Devils were chasing back to back victories following their win over Hull FC last weekend and got off to the strongest possible start. Early possession on the Dragons’ line saw Sa’u charge his way over to open the scoring in the second minute.
Cory Paterson marked his return to the side by setting up a try for Josh Griffin out wide before then forcing his own way over on 16 minutes. When Tommy Lee went over from dummy-half at ease on 20 minutes to give Salford a surprise 22-0 lead, it appeared the Red Devils would ease their way to victory.
Catalans however got themselves back into the match before half-time. A break from Zeb Taia saw the forward go over for the Dragons’ first try before Vincent Duport went over in the corner following a good passing move out wide from the French side. Ben Pomeroy’s try five minutes from the interval put Catalans well and truly back in the contest after clawing the game back to 18-22.
Salford began the second-half just like they had started the first and were rewarded with a try from Perpignan-born Theo Fages who gathered a knock-on from Elliot Whitehead before running 60 metres to extend the Red Devils’ lead.
The momentum of the game then swung both ways. Catalans responded through Pomeroy scoring his second try of the match before Rangi Chase collected the ball from his own kick to put Salford back in control.
Michael Oldfield was unchallenged from Scott Dureau’s high-ball on 62 minutes to go over before a penalty from Dureau brought the scores level at 32 apiece.
Tries from Whitehead and Ian Henderson looked to have won the game for the Dragons but crucially Dureau, who’s goal-kicking has been immaculate in recent weeks, was off target with the conversions still giving the Red Devils a chance at 40-32.
It was a chance they took with five minutes remaining as Paterson placed the ball over the line despite the best efforts from the Dragons’ defence, taking the scoreline to 40-38.
With one minute remaining, Catalans full-back Morgan Escare continued his run despite referee Phil Bentham shouting that the tackle was complete. The referee awarded Salford a penalty with Josh Griffin sailing over the two-points needed to claim a draw.
Both teams will be disappointed not have won given the opportunities both sides had to kill the game off when ahead. A draw was a fair result however, with poor defence from both sides resulting in a high-scoring, thrilling and entertaining game of rugby.