Super League: Catalans Dragons 20-18 St Helens - Hosts edge leaders Saints in thriller

Catalans celebrate
Catalans Dragons were indebted to their ball-players such as Josh Drinkwater and Sam Tomkins
Betfred Super League
Catalans (10) 20
Tries: Laguerre, Drinkwater, Langi, Whare Goals: Tomkins 2
St Helens (8) 18
Tries: Mata'utia, Makinson, Davies, Welsby Goals: Davies

Catalans Dragons edged a close-fought rematch of the 2021 Super League Grand Final against leaders St Helens.

The first 20 minutes were all Saints with Sione Mata'utia and Tommy Makinson tries, but missed goals proved key.

Dragons fought back to lead 10-8 at the break through Mathieu Laguerre and Josh Drinkwater, but Ben Davies' score swung the lead back the champions' way.

Samisoni Langi and Dean Whare crossed to put Catalans back in command, as Jack Welsby's late score came in vain.

This was a supreme contest played in sweltering Perpignan conditions, as an injury-hit Catalans and Saints both delivered high quality and intensity - as has become tradition in recent years.

Last season's magnificent Magic Weekend encounter which snatched the League Leaders' Shield for Catalans was followed by a nerve-shredding Grand Final win for Saints, and a league and cup double for Saints already this season left the Dragons seeking revenge in thrilling fashion.

Steve McNamara's hosts ground out the opening quarter in which they scarcely saw the Saints line, but once they got some field position through their marauding pack, the ball-playing cachet of Sam Tomkins, Drinkwater and Mitchell Pearce found their groove.

In particular Drinkwater and Pearce found perfect passes to help set up tries for Langi and Whare as the Saints were opened up with precision.

Not even the sin-binning of firebrand prop Dylan Napa could upset their rhythm, as the Dragons scored their first points of the game with him off the field and down to 12 men.

Saints showed why they are three-time champions, making light of their makeshift centre pairing of Davies and Mata'utia amid injuries to cause Catalans plenty of problems.

In addition to scoring, Welsby had fingerprints on everything Saints did, combining with Jonny Lomax to tee up Mata'utia with a short ball and looping a glorious pass for Davies.

They still had chances right to the last, when a desperate Pearce challenge denied a runaway Regan Grace, who was thwarted right at the end when he dived for the corner by another full-stretch effort from Arthur Romano.

Catalans head coach Steve McNamara:

"We had a six-day turnaround after Castleford and we had lots of adversity in the week and lots of adversity during the game.

"I don't want to get too carried away but that is a great result and a great performance from the team on the back of the adversity its had this week.

"We were down to our last 17 players basically. But it's about the players that played, not the players that didn't play and they took their chances against a very, very good team."

St Helens head coach Kristian Woolf:

"It was a good game of footy. We played well. I was really happy with our attitude and our effort.

"We turned up to play and probably the difference was that we didn't quite take our chances."

On Tommy Makinson making way through injury:

"His hamstring tightened up so we had to get him off but I don't think it's a tear or anything bad."

Catalans: Tomkins; Yaha, Whare, Langi, Laguerre; Pearce, Drinkwater; Dudson, McIlorum, Napa, Julien, Whitley, Goudemand

Interchanges: Da Costa, Seguier, Romano, Kasiano

Sin-bin: Napa (23)

St Helens: Bennison; Makinson, Davies, Mata'utia, Grace; Welsby, Lomax; Walmsley, Roby, Lees, Sironen, Batchelor, Knowles

Interchanges: Lussick, Paasi, Wingfield, Bell

Referee: James Child.

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