SAINTS battled to their third win in a row as they beat Catalans 40-18 on Friday night.
Jamie Foster led the way with 28 points and a hat-trick – and Leon Pryce made a welcome return from injury – as his side climbed to third in the Super League table.
It was tight, tough but ultimately decided when Pryce and Eastmond sent Michael Shenton over in the final stages.
Saints led 14-6 at half time with the tries coming from Jamie Foster and Francis Meli.
It was scrappy but both sides showed flair in attack – even if the ball handling didn’t match the bright approach play.
Foster’s first try was fed by Kyle Eastmond and Meli – then Meli took three over the line for Saints’ second.
In the second half, Frederic Vaccari pulled the Dragons right into it before Foster made it a six point match with another penalty.
And it was a vital two-pointer as Catalans replied almost immediately through Menzies.
But Jean-Phillipe Baile made a mistake in the Dragons next set – under Jonny Lomax’ pressure – and Foster mopped up from 50 yards out.
Daryl Millard made it game on once again on 60 minutes but Saints toughed it out with some desperate defence until Shenton’s score.
Francis Meli and Foster putting the icing on in the last five minutes.
Although team selection centred around Pryce’s return, Kyle Eastmond continued at full-back in the absence of Paul Wellens, who failed to recover from an Achilles injury, but Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook was pronounced fit.
Trent Robinson gave Remy Marginet a debut for the injured Scott Dureau in a side that was missing Thomas Bosc, Setaimata Sa, Cyril Stacul and David Ferriol.
Saints opened up the Catalans within the first five minutes when Jonny Lomax was taken high – earning a repeat set.
From there, Eastmond supplied Meli to send in Foster for his 18th of the season – the youngster converting his own try.
Two minutes later it should have been 10-0 as Foster deflected a Catalan pass into his hand on his own line and raced up the field.
He had Meli in support – but Damien Blanche produced an excellent tackle to deny the winger his 13th of the campaign.
And Catalan hit back almost immediately when Steve Menzies ran on the angle and caught Saints napping.
Remy Marginet levelling up the match.
On 18 minutes, Jamie Foster won Saints a surprise set when he smashed a drop out up field – but they couldn’t make the extra set pay.
With 15 left in the half though, they did. This time space was made on the left and Francis Meli took three blokes over the line with him.
Foster with another excellent ‘shoe’ off the touchline before making it 14-6 with two minutes remaining.
Half Time: Saints 14 Catalans 6
Saints got off to almost the perfect start when James Roby kicked a 40:20 but they couldn’t convert the pressure.
But after Catalans forced a drop out, Frederic Vaccari produced a monster run to scatter the Saints defence.
Jamie Foster added another two points as Saints won the ball back from the restart and Catalan lay on.
But Catalans hit back once again with Steve Menzies adding his second following Marginet’s drop off ball.
Saints weren’t about to let the Cats in further though and after Jean-Phillipe Baile was forced to offload the ball as Jonny Lomax dragged him into touch, Foster picked up and raced 50 yards to grab his second.
Catalans weren’t done though and scored through Clint Greenshields – setting up a tight match with 20 to go.
Leon Pryce replaced Lee Gaskell as Marginet lined up for an ultimately unsuccessful conversion attempt.
Catalans showed and goed a couple of times – but couldn’t find a way through the line – and Saints punished them – Leon Pryce involved as Michael Shenton nudged his tenth of the year.
Francis Meli got his second in the last five minutes following Chris Flannery’s break – goaled by Jamie Foster.
Foster crossing for his hat-trick at the death.
Tries: Foster (3), Meli (2), Shenton
Goals: Foster (8 from 8)
Tries: Menzies (2), Vaccari, Greenshields
Goals: Marginet (1 from 4)
REF: Phil Bentham
7. Kyle Eastmond; 28. Thomas Makinson, 3. Michael Shenton, 5. Francis Meli, 22. Jamie Foster; 25. Lee Gaskell, 20. Jonny Lomax; 10. James Graham, 9. James Roby, 15. Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook, 12. Jon Wilkin, 4. Sia Soliola, 11. Tony Puletua.
Subs: 6. Leon Pryce, 13. Chris Flannery, 14. Scott Moore, 21. Shaun Magennis.
1. Clint Greenshields; 2. Damien Blanche, 15. Jean-Phillipe Baile, 18. Daryl Millard, 19. Frederic Vaccari; 11. Steve Menzies, 29. Remy Marginet; 10. Remi Casty, 9. Ian Henderson, 24. Jason Baitieri, 23. Lopini Paea, 12. Sebastien Raguin, 13. Gregory Mounis.
Subs: 17. Cyril Gossard, 20. Michael Simon, 22. Jamel Fakir, 26. Eloi Pelissier.