Super League Match Review: Catalan Dragons 33-26 St Helens

Catalan Dragons 33
Tries: Garcia (2), Taia (2), Escare
Goals: Dureau 5/6, Casty 1/1
Drops: Dureau

St Helens 26
Tries: Swift (4), McDonnell
Goals: Walsh 3/3, Burns 0/2

Catalan Dragons extended their winning run at Stade Gilbert Brutus to three games with a 33-26 victory over reigning Super League champions St Helens.

The hosts trailed 20-18 at the break but a resurgent second half performance saw Laurent Frayssinous’ men pick up the two points.

Benjamin Garcia and Zeb Taia scored two tries apiece while Morgan Escare also touched down for what was his 50th Catalan Dragons try.

Adam Swift notched up four tries in defeat for Saints, who stay 3rd in the table, one point behind arch-rivals Wigan.

The Dragons move up to 7th following their seventh win from their last nine home games.

Saints got off to a flying start, taking the lead through the first of Swift’s four tries. Luke Walsh put in a superb kick from his own half that forced Dragons full-back Escare to run the ball out of the in goal area. The 23 year-old was bundled into touch by the enthusiastic chasers in red and white, and from the following set James Roby and Walsh combined with Shannon McDonnell to put the winger over in the corner.

Things got worse for the French side when Todd Carney was injured after 10 minutes. He played on, though, after having his left thigh strapped, though didn’t have much impact on the game.

Prop-come-centre Garcia put Catalan’s first points on the board after a wonderful pass from veteran Olivier Elima. Scott Duraeu converted to put Catalan in front.

Cook Islander Taia extended the lead with the first of his brace; Dureau provided the pass and the second rower powered over the line from close range, despite the efforts of Travis Burns, Mark Percival and McDonnell.

On 26 minutes St Helens responded with a sensational effort. They moved the ball left just inside their own half and Jordan Turner held off the challenges of Garcia and Damien Cardace before flicking the ball out to Swift who raced down the touchline before fending off Escare to score in the corner.

Burns failed with his two goal attempts, meaning the home side held a 12-8 lead.

Swift scored his hat-trick after 32 minutes when Turner found him with a pass that looked like it had gone forward. Despite Catalan protestations the try was awarded by referee James Child. Walsh took over the kicking duties and the visitors led by two.

Four minutes before the break McDonnell scored his first four-pointer since returning to the club from Wests Tigers. A nice passing move between Roby, Walsh and Burns sent the 27 year-old over, but the Dragons hit back before the hooter.

Garcia, who scored a hat trick at Castleford last week, scored his second of the evening. Elliott Whitehead provided an excellent assist, shaping to pass left, before throwing it out to the right for the French international to touch down.

Saints lost Turner to injury towards the end of the first half, but they held a narrow advantage at the break.

Adam Walmsley and Elima exchanged thunderous hits on each other as the game evolved into a bit of an arm wrestle.

There were nervy moments for the home fans when Dureau went to ground with an ankle problem, but after receiving treatment on the field the scrum-half was able to run it off.

To underline the tightness of the game, Catalan elected to kick for two points following Greg Richards’ high shot on Remi Casty. From 40 metres out, however, Dureau sent his kick narrowly wide of the left-hand post.

After an almost point-a-minute first half, remarkably it took until 20 minutes into the second half until the scoreboard attendants were troubled again.

Carney’s short ball back on the inside released Escare, who accelerated away from Burns and then around McDonnell to touch down for the third time this season.

Four minutes later another high tackle on Casty, this time by Luke Thompson, resulted in Dureau once again electing to kick for goal. He was successful on this occasion, giving the home side a 26-20 lead.

But back came Saints with yet another try for Swift. Josh Jones made the break from inside his own half before throwing a dummy that created space for Swift to exploit. He couldn’t be caught and Walsh’s conversion levelled the game up with 10 minutes to play.

It was Catalan who finished the stronger and claimed two valuable competition points. A quick play the ball from Ian Henderson caught Saints’ defence out and the hooker found Taia in support. The 30 year-old showed great footwork to evade Walmsley, before beating Kyle Amor and McDonnell to score under the posts.

Dureau slotted over a one-pointer on the hooter to secure the victory that lifts Catalan above Hull KR into 7th in the table.

Meanwhile, the defeat is Saints’ first in three games and is their third defeat on the road this season.

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