Tigers downed by Dragons in France
Posted: Saturday 15th February 2020 - 6:59 PM
Castleford suffered their first defeat of the season, going down 36-18 to Catalans in Perpignan.
The Tigers travelled to the south of France looking for a third consecutive win to start their Betfred Super League campaign but were never at their best at the Stade Gilbert Brutus as the home side picked up their first points of year thanks largely to a hat-trick from Sam Tomkins.
It took Catalans’ full back just two minutes to open the scoring as he sliced through out wide before Israel Folau made it a dream start for his new team when the Dragons’ star signing plucked a high kick out of the air to hand the home side a 12-0 advantage just seven minutes into his debut.
Cas – boosted by the returns of Mike McMeeken, George Griffin and Tyla Hepi but still missing several players against their near full-strength hosts – responded with a superb try by Derrell Olpherts minutes after his centre partner Cheyse Blair had been held up just short as the Fords went close in their first attacking set.
From there, Catalans had marched downfield in search of their third try but Danny Richardson defused a kick on the last tackle and some sharp thinking from the resulting quick 20-metre restart opened the space for Olpherts to race 80 minutes to get his side back in the contest, Richardson converting from under the sticks.
However, the Tigers were unable to keep much of a foothold in the contest and Catalans continued to enjoy the better of the possession and field position, ex-State of Origin half back James Maloney increasing the lead to 20-6 by knocking over a penalty goal and converting his side’s third score of the night through Samisoni Langi.
Cas did manage another important response on the stroke of half-time and Blair was the man to get the try to continue his excellent start to the campaign with a strong run and finish on the right flank, Richardson again tagging on the extra two from out wide to keep his side just about in the contest following an opening 40 minutes largely dominated by the home side.
That domination had come on the back of a heavy penalty count against the Tigers in the first half and more indiscipline from Cas proved costly as the game effectively slipped away from them in the third quarter. Arguably needing to be the first to score after the break, a penalty against Michael Shenton for blocking a Folau challenge for another high ball instead provided the platform for Tomkins to cross for his second of the night to give the Fords a mountain to climb with half an hour left on the clock.
The task became even more difficult when Olpherts was sin-binned for obstructing the Dragons full back as he looked for a quick 20-metre tap of his own with further punishment coming as the hosts made full advantage of their extra man to send Yaha over in the corner for a try that all but sealed the win.
Cas did briefly threaten a late rally when a moment of magic from Richardson reduced the arrears to just 12 points with 10 minutes remaining, the half back dummying a kick on half way before slicing through a gap and sending James Clare over for a try with a pin-point long pass out to the left wing. Richardson’s conversion cut the deficit to 30-18 but they needed another quick score and the momentum was lost on the following set when Liam Watts was unable to gather in a pass that would have put him through a gap in midfield.
Tomkins then dragged a drop goal attempt wide as he searched for a three-score cushion late on but it didn’t matter as he waltzed through a gap in the Tigers defence with two minutes remaining to secure the spoils and complete his hat-trick.
Full Time: Catalans Dragons 36-18 Castleford Tigers
S Tomkins, Tierney, Langi. Folau, Yaha, Maloney, Drinkwater, Casty, McIlorum, Bousquet, Whitley, J Tomkins, Garcia
Jullien, Maria, Baitieri, Kasiano
Tries: S Tomkins (3), Folau, Langi, Yaha
Conversions: Maloney (5/6)
Penalties: Maloney (1/1)
Rankin, Olpherts, Blair, Shenton, Clare, Trueman, Richardson, Watts, McShane, Griffin, Holmes, Millington, Massey
McMeeken, Smith, O’Neill, Hepi
Tries: Olpherts, Blair, Clare
Conversions: Richardson (3/3)
Sin Bin: Olpherts
*Match report by Matt Holden
**Photography by Melanie Allatt Photography
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