Round nineteen defeats for the Leeds Rhinos and Huddersfield Giants have left the door open for a rejuvinated Catalans Dragons to leapfrog both into the top eight. All that stood in their way for this afternoons game in Perpignan was the Castleford Tigers who themselves would go third with a win in the scorching south of France.

Castleford thrashed the Dragons at the Men-A-Hose Jungle with a 41-0 scoreline in mid-April but ten weeks later they visited a side brimming with confidence after winning eight of their ten games since the sides last met.

There was very little to choose between the sides for the bookies, the Dragons given a slender two point start on the coupon.

Josh Drinkwater opened the Dragons account with a fourth minute penalty goal, and three minutes later he was on hand to take a Greg Bird pass after the loose forward bust a tackle on the Tigers twenty. The Dragons stand-off added the extras for an 8-0 lead in as many minutes, a perfect start for the home side.

On twelve a spectacular effort from James Clare, taking a Michael Shenton pass and grounding by the corner flag while airborne, opened the Tigers account. The Jamie Ellis conversion went wide of the uprights leaving the Tigers still four points adrift.

On twenty the Tigers hit the front as the Dragons defence opened up for Quentin Laulu-Togaga’e to walk over the line and ground. Ellis was this time able to add the extras for a 10-8 lead.

Two minutes after a mid-half water break Drinkwater went close to getting his second but was held up but seconds later Bird weaved his way through a broken Tigers defence, juggled the ball, before regaining and grounding with his chin. Drinkwater was unable to add the extras, the narrow lead was alternating between the teams.

Drinkwater was in again on twenty eight after he chased his own ricocheted kick which bounced into his hands and allowed him to walk in for his second try of the night. He added the goal from wide to re-establish the eight point Catalans lead.

Substitute Louis Anderson extended the Dragons lead on thirty-three, taking a pass and crashing over the line to ground under the sticks. Drinkwater added the conversion for 24-10 with five minutes to an interval that couldn’t come soon enough for Daryl Powell.

Anderson quickly turned provider for Julien Bousquet as the forward took an inside pass and found a gap in the tired Tigers defence to score under the sticks. Drinkwater added the extras for a deserved 30-10 half time lead.

The first points of the second half came on forty-nine when Kenny Edwards grounded a Drinkwater grubber kick and when Drinkwater was unable to add the two but the Tigers needed five tries to regain the lead, it was looking like a long way back.

The Tigers stopped the rot on fifty-eight as Paul McShane kicked, dribbled and then picked up the ball to roll over the line for a four-pointer. Ellis added the conversion for 34-16.

Josh Drinkwater completed his hat-trick on seventy when he intercepted a Junior Moors pass on his own twenty and went eighty metres to score under the sticks. He added the conversion to bring up the forty, ensure the two points, and lift his side into the top eight for the first time in 2018.

The icing on the cake came on seventy-seven when Lewis Tierney finished off another length of the field Dragons effort. This time Drinkwater was unable to add the extras, the final score 44-16.

This was a tremendous win for Catalans Dragons side that look to be a totally different outfit to the one which was taken apart in Castleford ten weeks ago. Josh Drinkwater has been a revelation and instrumental in the way that their season has turned around. Although they have a tough run in to the split into the eights, possession is nine tenths of the law and at the moment it is the Dragons who have ownership of seventh spot.

The Tigers will put this down to a bad day at the office and they are still three points clear of Hull FC in fourth place.

Dragons: Gigot, Yaha, Mead, Wiliame, Tierney (T), Langi, Drinkwater (3T, 6G), Casty, McIlorum, Simon, Jullien, Garcia, Bird (T).  Subs: Anderson (T), Bousquet (T), Baitieri, Edwards (T).

Tigers: Laulu-Togaga’e (T), Egodo, Webster, Shenton, Clare (T), Ellis (2G), Trueman, Watts, McShane (T), Sene-Lefeo, Moors, Holmes, Massey.  Subs: Millington, Cook, Springer, Clark.

Referee: Robert Hicks.

Half-Time: 30-10.

Full-Time: 44-16.

Attendance: .

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