The Castleford Tigers had their first outing since the restart as they faced a Catalans Dragons side who suffered a heavy defeat against a superb St Helens side last Sunday afternoon.
The Dragons we still without the suspended San Tomkins and named Arthur Mourgue as full-back for the second consecutive game. The Tigers were without forward Liam Watts who suffered a domestic accident with a saw while chopping wood during the week.
Any kind of win would lift the Tigers into top spot in an early season table ahead of the rest of the fixtures but a big win for the Dragons (77 points) could see them jump from seventh to top but any kind of win would see them into fifth.
Michael Shenton opened the scoring after a frantic opening eight minutes. The Tigers centre collected a grubber kick in the Dragons try zone and somehow managed to keep control of the ball, using almost every limb, and get the ball to ground. Danny Richardson added the conversion for a 6-0 lead.
Two minutes later Shenton added a second after Arthur Mourgue knocked on and the Tigers kept the ball alive to engineer an overlap down the left. Richardson added a second goal from wide, all too easy for the side from Castleford.
Richardson added a fourteenth minute penalty goal to keep tightening the screw.
With twenty-two on the clock the Dragons finally got a foot on the ladder as Tom Davies broke for twenty metres down the right wing off an Israel Folau pass, outpacing the defence to score in the corner. James Maloney was unable to convert from the touchline.
Peter Mata’utia was sin-binned on the half hour mark for lifting in the tackle, and three tackles after the penalty Alrix Da Costa sold the summy from acting half pack to go past the Tigers defenders and push the ball to the ground. Maloney added the extras and the Dragons were wight back in the game against the twelve men.
Two minutes later and the Dragons were level as Folau put in a fifty metre solo run down the right wing, brushing away the attempted tackles, to ground in the corner. Maloney added the goal brilliantly, after eleven superb minutes the Dragons had the lead and few could argue that they deserved it.
The Dragons went into the interval with a two point advantage after looking down and out in the opening quarter hour. The sin-binning heralded the change, and the second half promised to be a belter.
The Dragons came out for the second in the same mindset as they had ended the first and after shocking mistake from Darreny Olpherts, passing in his own goal area, Benjamin Garcia was on hand to take the wayward pass and ground. Maloney added the conversion, the Dragons now 22-14 up.
Joel Tomkins was the beneficiary when Folau rose to take a high kick to the corner and offload under the tackle to give the second-rower a walk in try. Maloney kicked the goal, the Tigers needing three converted tries and having gone forty minutes without troubling the scorers.
Tom Davies added his second try on sixty-six going down the wing and coming inside to wrongfoot the tacklers who were looking increasingly disinterested. Maloney was unable to add the extras but the points were in the bag for McNamara’s side.
A Maloney penalty on seventy extended the lead to twenty points, the game won, and the Dragons up to third in the table, and above the Tigers.
Jason Baitieri put the icing on the cake with a seventh try on seventy-eight minutes, Maloney added the conversion to bring up the forty after a stunning sixty minute performance.
The Dragons looked like they would be the whipping boys in the opening quarter of an hour after a superb start from the Tigers but once they discovered their mojo, and got on a roll, the win was a formality for the Frenchmen to take the points. Daryl Powell will be left wondering where his side disappeared to as the Dragons played them off the park for an hour.
Tigers: Eden, Clare, Shenton (2T), Mata’utia (SB on 30), Olpherts, Trueman, Richardson (3G), Griffin, McShane, Millington, Holmes, McMeeken, Milner. Subs: Sene-Lefao, Foster, O’Neill, Hepi.
Dragons: Mourgue, Davies (2T), Langi, Folau (T), Taha, Maloney (6G), Drinkwater, Bousquet, Garcia (T), Moa, Whitley, Tomkins (T), Casty. Subs: Jullien, Da Costa (T), Baitieri (T), Kasiano.
Referee: Robert Hicks.
Ground: Emerald Headingley, Leeds.