Catalans Dragons 28-10 Hull KR

Catalans Dragons booked a first Grand Final appearance at Hull KR’s expense with a 28-10 victory at Stade Gilbert Brutus. The Robins were coming off the back of a shock win over Warrington Wolves but Catalans proved too strong in their own backyard. Rovers reporter James O’Brien delivers the verdict from Perpignan.

On the road from an empty Headingley to a sold-out Stade Gilbert Brutus, Tony Smith’s side transformed themselves from relegation candidates to Grand Final contenders. The journey was far from smooth thanks to Covid but Rovers picked up an army of new fans along the way. KR have been a breath of fresh air in a largely stale competition, a side capable of hurting opponents on both sides of the ball.

The Robins were all style and no substance last year but the class of 2021 found a tenacity and togetherness in defence to move to the brink of a maiden Grand Final. Unfortunately, a trip to the south of France proved to be a game too far as Catalans underlined their title credentials.

Rovers were sloppy in possession and failed to find the same energy defensively that kept Warrington scoreless last week. The Dragons were good enough to punish them on a memorable night for the French side, but KR should not be too disheartened after changing opinions and offering their fans hope again in 2021.

Catalans claimed a hat-trick of wins over KR on their way to a first League Leaders’ Shield, which earned Steve McNamara’s team a home semi-final in front of a partisan and expectant crowd in Perpignan. The Dragons were greeted by hordes of fans as they arrived at the stadium but they stood up to the pressure in impressive fashion.

Sam Tomkins missed out for the hosts, giving Arthur Mourgue an opportunity to showcase his talent at full-back on the big stage. It was an inauspicious start for the youngster as he made a mess of Jordan Abdull’s towering kick at the end of the first set of the game. Rovers turned down the offer of two points in an early signal of intent. But the Robins were guilty of trying too much too soon with pass after pass finding the floor. Catalans’ first foray into KR territory ended with Mourgue having a try ruled out for a double movement but the hosts did not have to wait too much longer for the first points of the night.

Josh Drinkwater sent up a high kick which was palmed back in ungainly fashion by Samisoni Langi, with Ben Garcia on hand to touch down. James Maloney converted to make it 6-0 after 10 minutes but Rovers were giving as good as they were getting.

The Robins created two more chances on the back of half-breaks by Matty Storton and Kane Linnett, only for the final pass to go to ground in a theme of a frenetic first half. Catalans, too, were guilty of lacking composure in key moments, Tom Davies picking the wrong option after finding space down the right wing. Fouad Yaha was denied by a forward pass and when the Dragons’ second try came it was against the run of play.

Rovers were on the attack inside the Catalans 20 but in the blink of an eye Drinkwater was touching down at the other end after picking off Abdull’s pass.

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Catalans Dragons 28 (12)
Tries: Garcia, Drinkwater, Mourgue, Yaha, Chan. Goals: Maloney 4.

Hull KR 10 (4)
Tries: Kenny-Dowall, Hall. Goal: Abdull