The Dragons were dealt an early blow as Sam Tomkins and Samisoni Langi were both forced to miss the game after picking up injuries in the warm up.
The Saints looked to make that blow count and started strongly. We were unfortunate not to take the lead as Kevin Naiqama flew over in the corner after a one-handed, Tommy Makinson-esque finish, but referee Robert Hicks rightly called the Fijian’s foot was just in touch.
It was in fact the hosts, playing in front of 1000 Catalans fans at the Stade Gilbert Brutas who took the lead through a James Maloney penalty goal.
Then at the other end Naiqama looked like he did brilliantly to pick up a loose ball and get out of his own goal, but Hicks penalised him for an incorrect play the ball. The call looked harsh and Catalans made it count as Maloney crept through a gap in the Saints defence to open the scoring. He converted his own try to extend the Dragons lead to eight.
Saints were again close to our first try, but when Percival broke through the Catalans line he opted to pass out wide to Naiqama who went over, but our centre’s pass was forward. Theo Fages was hit late in the build-up mind so the penalty was awarded and Coote kicked the final points of a tough first half. Catalans led 8-2 at the break.
Saints had the worst possible start to the second half as we conceded another try. Coote grasped a high Catalans kick, but his sideways pass was dropped by Grace and Mike McMeeken capitalised and fed the supporting Dean Whare who went over easily. Maloney converted and Catalans led 14-2.
We were back in it shortly after mind as James Roby opted to go on the short side and he found the supporting Coote who fed Mark Percival who powered over three Catalans players to score. Coote missed the two from wide right. Catalans 14-6 Saints.
But Catalans responded just seven minutes later as Mike McMeeken broke through weak Saints defence and after he was finally brought down, the ball was fed to the left and Benjamin Jullien was there to score. Maloney converted from wide. Catalans 20-6 Saints.
Percival made it interesting with 10 minutes to go as he made three successive Saints penalities count, latching onto another Coote short ball and going over. Coote converted brilliantly from wide right. 20-12.
Saints had momentum and continued to push and with four minutes to play we had another as Lomax’s cut-out pass found Grace and he went over in the corner! Coote’s kick fell short, but the deficit was down to four – 20-16.
The Saints pushed again, but could not find a late winner this time as Catalans held on.
Catalans Dragons Team: Arthur Mourgue, Tom Davies, Matthieu Laguerre, Dean Whare, Fouad Yaha, James Maloney, Josh Drinkwater, Gil Dudson, Michael Mcilorum, Julian Bousquet, Benjamin Jullien, Mike McMeeken, Ben Garcia.
Interchanges: Alrix Da Costa, Sam Kasiano, Mickael Goudemand, Joel Tomkins.
Tries: Maloney (22), Whare (42), Jullien (57)
Conversions: Maloney (4 from 4)
Saints Team: Lachlan Coote, Kevin Naiqama, Mark Percival, Jack Welsby, Regan Grace, Jonny Lomax, Theo Fages, Agnatius Paasi, James Roby, Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Joel Thompson, Sione Mata’utia, Morgan Knowles.
Interchanges: Alex Walmsley, Kyle Amor, Joe Batchelor, Lewis Dodd.
Tries: Percival (50), (70), Grace (76).
Conversions: Lachlan Coote (2 from 4)