JAMES WEBSTER suffered his first defeat in charge of Wakefield Trinity Wildcats as Catalan Dragons ran out 40-6 winners at Stade Gilbert Brutus on Saturday.
Elliott Whitehead scored a hat-trick of tries as the Dragons scored seven tries to put the agony of last week’s 37-16 defeat to Wigan behind them.
The French side raced into a 28-0 half-time lead despite dropping the likes of Jeff Lima and Olivier Elima, while both Gregory Mounis and Vincent Duport were absent through suspension.
Catalan opened the scoring in the 13th minute, Daryl Millard collecting Sam Williams’ kick to the left corner after Richard Owen got caught underneath the ball.
Former Wakefield winger Millard touched down, with Williams adding the conversion.
From the restart, Leon Pryce managed to get his hands free in the tackle and offloaded to Louis Anderson, whose quick hands allowed Morgan Escare to race around the Wakefield defenders to score in the left corner.
Williams missed the conversion, yet the Dragons had raced into a 10-point-lead and Wakefield offered little resistance as Catalan ran riot before half-time.
Whitehead scored his first with a dummy and drive from short range after 21 minutes, Williams adding the simple conversion.
Four minutes later Zeb Taia chased Millard’s short kick in behind the Wakefield defence and won the race to collect the ball and touch down to further extend Catalan’s lead.
Whitehead then dummied wide and raced through the attempted tackles of Tautai and Tim Smith and raced 40 metres to score.
Williams’ fourth successful conversion meant the score was 28-0 to the hosts at the break.
After half-time, Wakefield continued to be their own worst enemies, Paul Sykes knocking on and Escare collecting the ball on the run and racing 70 metres untouched to score a sensational effort. Williams again added the conversion to take the score to 34-0.
Wakefield refused to give up, and thought they had scored as Matt Ryan charged over the line, but he failed to ground the ball properly as the video referee refused the try claim.
Just before the hour mark, Whitehead scored his hat-trick try after the ball had been sent out to the right and to Williams.
He handed on to Whitehead, who pushed away Sykes’ would-be tackle to touch down. Williams’ conversion made the scores 40-0.
Wakefield did gain some consolation, however, as Paul McShane pounced on Escare’s knock on to set Reece Lyne away to score unopposed. Paul Sykes’ conversion took the final score to 40-6.
Webster was seething after the match. He said: “I’m pretty deflated obviously, the team are obviously very disappointed they are out on their feet.
“We just weren’t able to handle the physicality of the Catalan today. They are a very good strong, physical team. We’ve been able to get ourselves up week on week for five or six weeks now and today just seemed one game too many for us.”
“We have been patching players up week on week and I think that caught up with us this evening.”
Catalan Dragons: Escare; Millard, Taia, Pomeroy, Oldfield; Pryce, Williams, Simon, Henderson, Bousquet, Whitehead, Anderson, Baile. Subs (all used): Paea, Maria, Pelissier, T Margalet.
Wakefield Wildcats: Mathers; Owen, Keinhorst, Riley, Lyne; Sykes, T. Smith, Moore, McShane, Raleigh, Gilmour, Kirmond, Washbrook. Subs (all used): Lauitiiti, Ryan, Scruton, Tautai.
Referee: Robert Hicks (Oldham).