Saints v Catalans Dragons
The Saints kept alive their slim chances of a top four finish with a thrilling 32-30 victory over Catalans.
The Dragons took an early lead with a pin point grubber to the left corner from impressive stand-off Lucas Albert to winger Jordan Flovie, writes Graham Henthorne.
As the half wore on the bigger Dragons forwards started to tire though and the Saints gained the upper hand down the middle.
The scores were levelled up on 18 minutes as Chris Follin went over on the right. The move had actually started down the left flank as ever improving second row Sm Royle made a 40 metre break. With Elliott Jenkins streaking up on the inside a simple pass would have put him under the sticks but Royle made probably his worst decision of the past few months as he tried to dummy the full back and was tackled.
All was not lost as from the play the ball Rob Fairclough took advantage of the open space down the right with a cross kick to Tom Nisbett. The winger took it to the cover, grubbered it past allowing Follin to pounce.
A rather harsh sin-binning of Josh Eaves reduced the Saints to 12 and the Dragons took full advantage straight away with a try in the right corner.
The Saints took stock and continued to plough through the Dragons tiring forwards with Chris Kellett to the fore.
The return of Eaves proved the catalyst for the Saints to take the lead through two Kevin Brown tries.
Eaves darted left passing to Jenkins and then Royle who poked his nose half way through before passing out the back to the supporting Matty Costello. Quick hands from the full back and Sean Croston put Brown diving in to score.
From the kick off substitutes Kellett and Jordan Olmez again put the Dragons to the sword and when Kellett reacted quickest to regather Fairclough’s grubber the Saints gained a repeat set. From the play the ball the quick hands and a high pass saw Brown ducking the tackles to score. Callum Hazzard’s fabulous touchline conversion put the Saints six up.
A penalty on the whistle gave Albert a chance to pull two back but the Saints went in ahead.
Contrary to so many of the Academy’s games this year the Saints won the game in the ten minutes after the break with a brace of tries from Tom Nisbett.
With the wrecking duo of Olmez and Kellett again to the fore a Fairclough cross kick on the last saw Nisbett out jump his opposite number and reach over the line.
From the kick-off it was an Olmez offload which put Eaves away on a 30 metre dash downfield. He showed real pace to get away and did the sensible thing when reaching the full back passing to the supporting Hazzard. He did his job committing the cover before passing out right to Nisbett for the score.
The Dragons aren’t pushing for the play-offs for nothing, however, as they came roaring back to within two with Albert pulling the strings and orchestrating a two try salvo in as may sets.
But the Saints were not to be denied with Kev Brown’s hat-trick try putting them two scores in front again.
Offloads from Jorge Lewtas and Eaves gained the Saints 30 metres down the middle. Jenkins took the move on dummying his way clear to the fullback before passing out to Brown to allow him to do what he does best finishing in the corner despite the covering tacklers.
The final 15 minutes turned into a battle of wills with the Saints just about managing to hold on despite a fine try to the visitors from Albert.
This was a great team performance built on the back of the dominance of the props Bullen, Lewtas, Olmez and Kellett.
The Saints are still relying on kind results elsewhere but with displays like this the top four is still just within reach.
Tries: Chris Follin (18), Kevin Brown (32, 35 & 66), Tom Nisbett (45 & 47)
Goals: Rob Fairclough 1 from 1, Callum Hazzard 2 from 4, Brad Billsborough 1 from 1
Tries: Jordan Flovie (8), Raphael Cousin (24), Bartholomy Rouge (55), Lucas Albert (60 & 77)
Goals: Lucas Albert 5 from 6.
Half Time: 16-12
Full Time: 32-30
1. Matty Costello (C); 5. Tom Nisbett, 4. Chris Follin, 3. Sean Croston, 2. Kevin Brown; 6. Elliott Jenkins, 7. Rob Fairclough; 8. Evan Bullen, 9. Josh Eaves, 20. Jorge Lewtas, 11. Sam Royle, 12. Alex Eckley, 13. Mike Weldon.
Subs: 10. Jordan Olmez, 14. Brad Billsborough, 16. Callum Hazzard, 17. Chris Kellett.
1. Fabien Flovie; 5. Raphael Cousin, 4. Georgy Gambaro, 3. Mathieu Laguerre, 21. Jordan Flovie; 6. Lucas Albert, 7. Arthur Morgue; 8. Bartholomy Rouge, 9. Romain Pallares, 10. Paul Seguier, 11. Luc Delor, 12. Lucas Vergniol, 13. Maxime Garcia.
Subs: 14. David Demacedo, 15. Florian Vailaen, 16. Bastian Scimone, 17. Sebastien Bled.