Catalan Dragons brought Castleford Tigers’ dreams of winning the League Leaders’ Shield to a cruel end in Perpignan on Saturday, subjecting the Tigers to a 28-6 defeat at the Stade Gilbert Brutus.
The first 29 minutes of the game were evenly contested, with neither side finding it easy to break through in a game played in good conditions and fought at a fast pace.
But in the final ten minutes of the first half the Dragons took the lead with two pieces of brilliance from their outstanding fullback Morgan Escaré.
First, Escaré supported a superb break by centre Vincent Duport to touch down, and then just before the interval he took a pass from Daryl Millard near to the touchline and somehow managed to get around Luke Dorn and touch down just inside the corner post for a magnificent try. With Thomas Bosc converting his first try, the Dragons led 10-0 at half-time.
And the second half began badly for the Tigers when Ben Pomeroy intercepted a pass from Marc Sneyd and Escaré again raced downfield, but took the tackle, and the Catalans were able to move the ball quickly to the left for Zeb Taia to score their third try.
The Tigers his back immediately, however, when crisp passing to the right saw Kirk Dixon scoring in the corner off a pass from Oliver Holmes.
But the Tigers then made a succession of frustrating mistakes, and the Dragons consolidated their lead with two further tries from Ian Henderson and Elliott Whitehead, both converted by Bosc.
The result means that the Tigers finish in fourth place in the Super League table. They will play St Helens away on the opening week of the play-offs on Friday night, while the Dragons will travel to Headingley to play Leeds Rhinos on Saturday.
A full report and photos will feature in Monday’s edition of Rugby League Express.