Dragons continue good form
Catalan Dragons strengthened their grip on third place in Super League with a narrow 13-10 win over Hull KR at Craven Park.
It extended the French side's run over the Robins to four games and saw them return to winning ways after successive defeats to Salford and Wigan. Trent Robinson labelled his side's performance against the Reds as disgraceful, but he would have been pleased with their overall display in east Hull.
Few sides have kept the Dragons to 20 points or less, but Rovers have done it twice this season. However, a third time was asking a little too much from the Robins. The last time the Dragons visited Craven Park in April, they were outscored by four tries to three but escaped with a Challenge Cup victory thanks to a rare off-day by Rovers goalkicker Michael Dobson.
Scott Dureau was on form with the boot with a superb drop goal and penalty at the death to secure the win. After a cagey start by both sides, it was the Dragons that broke the deadlock. Video referee Ian Smith found no fault with Daryl Millard's high leap and knock back for Clint Greenshields, who in turn sent Setaimata Sa over for the score.
Dureau, whose kick caused the confusion in the first place, missed the conversion but Catalan led 4-0 after 17 minutes. Rovers' response was impressive and prompt. Jake Webster had little room to ground Blake Green's kick but he did to level the scores, and Dobson's conversion gave the home side a 6-4 advantage after 20 minutes.
Chances were few and far between after that as defences came to the fore close to the respective try lines. Ben Galea and Dobson twice squandered try-scoring opportunities before the end of the first half.
Just before the hooter sounded Dureau attempted a 40-metres drop goal, but the connection was not as good as he would have liked and it had neither the height nor direction to trouble the scorers. Catalan would have been the happier of the two sides with the score 6-4 at the break.
The Dragons should have been behind at the start of the second half when Graeme Horne went very close. However, video referee Smith ruled out his try for a knock on over the line. Craig Hall could also has scored but an unfortunate knock on when the ball bounced up and hit his hand ruled the play dead.
Dureau equalised for the Dragons with a 55th-minute penalty, but the sides did not stay on level terms for long. Five minutes later, Scott Murrell found himself on the left wing to ground Lincoln Withers' inch perfect kick through.
Dobson was off target with the conversion, but Rovers held a 10-6 lead which, in the wet conditions, was a good one until Greenshields scored an unconverted try to level matters with five minutes to go before Dureau dropped a goal three minutes later to break the 10-10 deadlock. A Dureau penalty after the hooter added gloss to the score for the French side.
Salford 10-32 St Helens
Salford let slip a 10-0 lead against St Helens for the second time this season as Mike Rush's men continued their impressive run with a 32-10 victory.
The Reds conceded 38 points without reply in going down 38-10 at Langtree Park in February and there was a touch of deja vu as they were once more unable to maintain their early promise, with Saints finishing strongly at the City of Salford Stadium.
Saints have now lost just two of 11 league matches under Rush and Keiron Cunningham and have their sights set firmly on a seventh consecutive Grand Final appearance, while Salford have little left to play for.
Yet Salford dominated the first half, highlighted by touches of class from stand-off Daniel Holdsworth in particular, and they deserved their 10-6 half-time lead. Lance Hohaia breached the Salford line midway through the first half but referee James Child had spotted an obstruction and it was the Reds who opened the scoring three minutes later.
Inevitably, Holdsworth was at the heart of the move as he supplied the final pass for former St Helens back rower Vinnie Anderson to go past Paul Wellens for a try, to which Holdsworth added the conversion.
Hohaia had another try disallowed, this time for a knock-on, before Salford stretched their lead through Danny Williams. The former Newcastle Falcons winger, who this week signed a new two-year contract, produced a superb finish after Salford ran the ball on the last tackle and Chris Nero cleverly drew the Saints defence out of position.
St Helens hauled themselves back into the game just before the break when centre Josh Jones collected Hohaia's towering kick to touch down and Tom Makinson added the goal to cut the gap to four points.
It was all square two minutes into the second half when Hohaia went over from dummy half for Saints' second try and the visitors went in front for the first time on 53 minutes when Jon Wilkin's kick hung in the wind and enabled centre Michael Shenton to get Makinson over at the corner.
Makinson was unable to master the wind with either of his latest conversion attempts but, at 14-10, the momentum was firmly with the visitors. The Reds continued to look lively but they suffered a blow when tough-tackling forward Shannon McPherson hobbled off on 65 minutes and there was no way back for them when Wellens tapped the ball back from Wilkin's high kick for Jonny Lomax to touch down.
Saints then made sure with two further tries through Shenton, who followed up his own grubber kick, and Wellens, with substitute Lee Gaskell kicking three conversions.