Catalan Dragons 32
Tries: Baitieri, Springer, Oldfield, Pelissier, Garcia, Whitehead
Goals: Bosc 4/6
Hull KR 24
Tries: Blair, Cockayne, Dixon, Mantellato
Goals: Mantellato 4/5
Catalan Dragons have leapfrogged Hull KR in the Super League table after recording a 32-24 over the Robins at the Stade Gilbert Brutus.
The home side were disrupted with late withdrawals to their squad; Scott Dureau and Louis Anderson failed fitness tests in the morning before kick off and Willie Tonga was forced to pull out with an eye infection.
Winger Fouad Yaha made his debut for Laurent Frayssinous’ side.
Hull KR’s new signing Dane Tilse was given his debut by Chris Chester, but Rovers slipped out of the top 8 following the defeat.
The Dragons started the game the stronger and went ahead after seven minutes. Jason Baitieri claimed his first try of the season after forcing his way past Graeme Horne, John Boudebza and Albert Kelly to score from close range.
Rovers hit back five minutes later, Maurice Blair shrugged off no less than four would-be tacklers to score on the left-hand side. Josh Mantellato put the Robins 8-6 ahead midway through the first half with a penalty before Ben Cockayne crossed to extend Rovers’ lead.
Zeb Taia was adjudged to have played at a Terry Campese kick that hit the second rower’s foot before going into touch. Hull KR were awarded head and feed at the scrum and Campese, Kelly and Ken Sio combined to put the 31 year-old over in the corner. Mantellato’s touchline conversion attempt hit the upright and Rovers led by six.
Gadwin Springer scored his first try for Catalan just moments after coming on off the bench. The big forward powered through KR’s try line defence and Thomas Bosc’s goal levelled the scores.
Michael Oldfield put the hosts ahead at the break after a great offload from Elliott Whitehead found Bosc who fed the winger for his fifth try of the campaign. Bosc then himself hit the post with his touchline conversion attempt, meaning the French side led 16-12 at the interval.
That lead was extended shortly after the restart when Catalan forced a goal line drop out. Eloi Pelissier made a dart for the line from a play the ball five metres from the Rovers line, catching the defence cold. Bosc’s conversion put the hosts 10 points ahead.
Kevin Larroyer – on loan at KR from Catalan – made a break that set up Rovers’ response. The French international burst onto a short Campese pass and then gave the ball out wide to the supporting Keiran Dixon, who’s pace took him over under the sticks.
However, the home side restored their 10 point advantage five minutes later. Carney’s offload bounced forward off Larroyer and was collected by Whitehead, who drove at the line. He was able to offload to Benjamin Garcia, who showed neat footwork to evade two tackles and give the Dragons a two score buffer.
It might have been a different story had the visitors taken their chances. In the first half, Kelly was denied an interception try by the tenacious Morgan Escare, who chased him down and forced the half-back to lose the ball short of the line.
Two more golden opportunities came and went within three minutes in the second half for the Robins. First, Sio’s pass out to Cockayne travelled forward denying the back a second try of the game. Kelly then knocked on an Adam Walker offload only a couple of metres from the try line with 14 minutes left to play.
Catalan punished their opponents with 10 minutes left on the clock through Whitehead’s 6th try of the season. The NRL-bound forward was put through a gap by Carney to put the game out of Rovers’ reach.
The Robins did have the last word, though, as Mantellato scored a minute from the hooter. Cockayne’s grubber kick was picked up by Dixon who shipped the ball out to the left for Super League’s leading point scorer to touch down, but it was too little, far too late.
For Catalan, the victory puts an end to a two-game losing run whilst Hull KR have now lost five of their six away games this season.
Man of the match: Elliott Whitehead – A try and two assists for the former Bradford Bull, who will be a big loss to the Dragons when he joins Canberra Raiders for next season.