The boot of Thomas Bosc got Catalan out of trouble in Perpignan to deny Wakefield what would have been an impressive victory.
The France international slotted a 75th-minute match-winning drop goal to break the Wildcats’ resistance, just seconds after converting Damien Blanch’s try from the touchline to level the scores.
Defeat was tough on Wakefield, who excelled at one of the hardest places to go in Super League, but their failure to protect the 16-0 lead they opened early on cost them dear, with Jason Batieri’s last-minute try slightly flattering the hosts.
Even after Catalan levelled at 16-16 Wakefield still went back ahead through Lee Smith, but ultimately the precision of Bosc was the difference, leaving Wakefield to suffer a second tough defeat in a row having lost 18-16 to Huddersfield last Sunday.
Frankie Mariano, in the side in the absence of injured captain Danny Kirmond, broke through and laid on a score for Richard Mathers, and when Blanch knocked on Paul Sykes picked the ball up and feed Dean Collis, who duly put in Peter Fox.
Coach Richard Agar, who took the France job on a part-time basis a fortnight ago, must not have believed what he was seeing, and his side added to their lead on the 20-minute mark, with Collis going in after an Ali Lauitiiti break.
That signalled the start of a Catalan fightback, though, and Mathias Pala was the first over, with Gregory Mounis then doing the same after Kyle Amor gave away a cheap penalty.
Two Bosc goals left it 12-16 at the break and both sides had near misses after the restart, for former Wakefield winger Blanch and Mathers.
Blanch found the room to squeeze in for a legitimate score, though, with Bosc’s failure to convert leaving the scores level, with Vincent Duport then having one ruled out for a knock-on after a Bosc kick caused havoc.
Wakefield’s response was a clinical one, with Danny Washbrook breaking, Smith scoring and Sykes converting.
But Catalan sensed another comeback and Blanch nipped in at the flag despite the attentions of Ben Cockayne, with Bosc levelling with a brilliant conversion from wide out.
He then split the posts from 30 metres and missed a simple penalty, but it mattered little as Batieri rambled over in the dying seconds.
Wakefield coach Richard Agar said losing Andy Raleigh and Mariano to injury meant the team were stretched in the second half.
He said: “I thought our energy levels were extremely low and if you add a 12-3 penalty count against us to that as well, then it is no surprise that we were dead on our feet at the end of the game.
“I’m usually disappointed if we were nine penalties worse than the opposition.
“I’ve seen a first half where a team has received two penalties for shoulder charges, yet I’ve seen three against my team that went unpunished. And it really came back to hurt us at the end – some of the decisions that went against us.”
Catalan Dragons: Millard, Blanch, Menzies, Duport, Pala, Pryce, Bosc, Fakir, Henderson, Casty, Elima, Anderson, Baitieri. Subs: Mounis, Maria, Larroyer, Simon.
Wakefield: Mathers, Sykes, Fox, Collis, L. Smith, Cockayne, T. Smith, Poore, Aiton, Raleigh, Lauitiiti, Mariano, Washbrook. Subss: Wood, Amor, Trout, Annakin.
Referee: S Ganson (St Helens).