Catalans Dragons 30 Wakefield 28: Tenacious Wildcats fight back to slay the Dragons

David Fifita and Matty Ashurst.
David Fifita and Matty Ashurst.
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Wakefield Trinity Wildcats battled back from 18-6 down to claim a fine victory in the south of France and cement their place in the top eight.

Results on Friday night had already confirmed Trinity’s place in the Super-8s, but they were looking get back to winning ways ahead of their Challenge Cup semi-final later this month.

The Wildcats took the lead in the eighth minute, a scrum play following a decision by referee Chris Campbell seeing Max Jowitt race over from 20 metres out before Liam Finn converted.

Catalans were level on 18 minutes as the new half-back combination of Lucas Albert and Tony Gigot combined for the latter to touch down to the right of the posts, with Richards adding the extras.

Six minutes later Catalans took the lead. A solo effort from Taylor saw the former Australia international break free and score to the left of the posts.

Another Richards conversion saw the Dragons lead 12-6 and the hosts were in again after the restart.

A penalty gave Catalans the field position they needed before Justin Horo’s dummy saw a huge hole open up in the Wakefield defence. Horo raced clear and touched down under the posts to extend the Catalan lead, with Richards’ goal creating a 12-point advantage.

Wakefield refused to wilt in the heat and, on 32 minutes, an error by Morgan Escare offered them a chance to attack the Catalans line.

Tinirau Arona went close to scoring, and from the subsequent play-the-ball a short Scott Moore pass sent Jonny Molloy over to score down the right edge. Finn converted to take the score to 18-12.

A fortunate piece of play produced the game levelling try two minutes before the interval, with Arona’s offload appearing to bounce forward before Craig Hall kicked ahead and gave chase. Escare looked to have had the ball covered until the moment when he lost control, Hall collecting and diving over to score before Finn added the conversion. In the closing moments of the half, Fouad Yaha appeared to have scored in the corner from Taylor’s pass. The referee, however, ruled the try out for an earlier forward pass.

After the break, Wakefield were much brighter, Arona again making inroads before Bill Tupou scored a superb solo effort, scooting away on halfway to step and outpace the Catalans defenders. Finn added the conversion from in front of the posts to give the Wildcats the lead.

Catalans levelled the game up once again, just short of the hour, Escare collecting Albert’s grubber kick to score to the left of the posts, with Richards converting. Tension affected the players in the final quarter. Gigot snatched at a drop-goal attempt before Wakefield again took the lead. David Fifita went within two metres of scoring, but was not put to ground, and a quick play-the-ball allowed Moore to send Michael Sio under the posts unopposed. Finn’s conversion gave the Wildcats a 30-24 lead.

With 10 minutes remaining, Yaha gave the Catalans hope of stealing a point when he touched down from Escare’s pass but, crucially, Richards missed the conversion to leave the Dragons trailing by two points.

A last-minute dash down the touchline from Taylor was not enough to nick the win as his attempted offload only found the touchline.

Catalans Dragons: Escare, Yaha, Garcia, Duport, Richards, Gigot, Albert, Baitieri, Taylor, Horo, Maria, Pelissier, Casty. Substitutes: Bousquet, Da Costa, Mason, Navarrete.

Wakefield: Jowitt, Lyne, Arundel, B Tupou, Hall, Miller, Finn, Simon, Moore, Arona, Ashurst, Molloy, Sio.Substitutes: Scruton, A Tupou, Walton, Fifita.

Referee: Chris Campbell (RFL).

Attendance: 8,562.