Catalans end losing run with win over Saints

Tom Davies scored twice in the second half as Catalans won
Catalans (12) 24
Tries: Mourgue, Ikuvalu, Davies 2 Goals: Keighran 4
St Helens (12) 12
Tries: Walmsley, Welsby Goals: Makinson 2

Catalans Dragons ended a three-game winless run with a superb performance to beat resurgent reigning champions St Helens on home turf in Super League.

They had to come from behind, after Alex Walmsley and Jack Welsby tries, with Arthur Mourgue and Matt Ikuvalu scores bringing them level at half-way.

Adam Keighran’s penalty goal early in the second period put the Dragons in front for the first time.

Tom Davies’ double gave the Dragons enough to see off error-strewn Saints.

Saints looked like they were back to their scintillating best with victory over leaders Warrington last time out, but this loss leaves them eight points off top spot in the table.

It proved a bittersweet night for James Roby, who moved level with Kel Coslett as joint leading appearance-maker for the club, with 531 games, but was a beaten skipper.

It had all started so well for Paul Wellens’ side, as they roared into a 12-0 lead with an early flurry of points in Perpignan, albeit having fended off a rampant opening 10 minutes from the hosts.

Catalans’ pre-match parade of pedigree bulls and cows had seen one escape and send Catalans players scattering for cover on the field, and it was a similar scenario when Walmsley stomped through the defence to cross on the back of a Tom Johnstone error.

The second try came when Welsby steamed in with slick footwork off a Konrad Hurrell surge, to leave the visitors’ travelling support raucously cheering behind the posts.

Catalans recovered from their setback to impose themselves on the game, notably when the slippery Mourgue parted the Saints defence with footwork and speed to scorch in.

Ikuvalu’s debut score came after a slick move to the edge, and an early Adam Keighran penalty goal put the Dragons in front after half-time.

Davies’ two scores proved crucial, first touching down after an incisive move exposed numbers out wide, and then taking a perfectly-weighted kick to score and take the game well clear of their opponents.

Catalans Dragons head coach Steve McNamara:

“With a captain like Ben Garcia who was once again immense tonight I hope we put some pride back into rugby league here.

“It was a bizarre start to the match, we were in control and then 12-0 down all of a sudden. Just two lapses in concentration and we were punished, but what a response, 24 points from us after that point.

“We prepared really well, it was difficult with a lot of players in the French squad, but having Mitchell Pearce and Sam Tomkins training all week, and playing tonight has done us the world of good.

“I’m delighted for Matt Ikuvalu to have such a good game on his debut and he’ll be really strong for us going forward, as is Adam Keighran who has been consistently very important for the team.”

St Helens head coach Paul Wellens:

“We’ve got to give Catalans credit, they played with a real effort and intensity. At the same time we were massive contributors to our own downfall, particularly around the way we attacked.

“We came with a plan to have a bit of ball movement but as the game went on we became a little reckless and started to throw passes that were almost Hail Marys and started to chance things that weren’t there.

“It was out of character for us and a very frustrating night all in all. We are under the cosh a bit at the moment and we can’t just play our way out of trouble.

“Sometimes you have to take the tough carries, kick long and chase your defence, they are the things that have made this team so successful in recent times.”

Catalans: Mourgue, Davies, Keighran, Ikuvalu, Johnstone; Pearce, Tomkins; Bousquet, Garcia, Dezaria, Seguier, Whitley, McMeeken

Interchanges: Navarette, Chan, Taukeiaho, Ma’u

St Helens: Welsby; Ritson, Hurrell, Hopoate, Makinson; Lomax, Dodd; Walmsley, Roby, Lees, Royle, Batchelor, Bell

Interchanges: Lussick, McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Wingfield, Delaney [Bennison]

Referee: Liam Moore

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