Challenge Cup: Hull KR 32-26 Catalans Dragons

By Matt NewsumBBC Sport at KC Lightstream Stadium
Josh Mantellato and Elliott Whitehead
Both Josh Mantellato and Elliott Whitehead ran in tries
Challenge Cup
Hull KR (26) 32
Tries: Sio 2, Dixon, Kelly, Horne Goals: Mantellato 6
Catalans Dragons (4) 26
Tries: Inu 2, Taia, Henderson, Whitehead Goals: Dureau 3

Hull KR reached the Challenge Cup semi-finals for the first time since 2006 despite a second-half Catalans Dragons fightback at KC Lightstream Stadium.

Rovers ran in four tries through Ken Sio, Kieran Dixon, Albert Kelly and Graeme Horne in the first 40 minutes.

Krisnan Inu scored for Catalans just before the break but Josh Mantellato's penalty goal made it 26-4.

Tries by Zeb Taia, Inu, Ian Henderson and Elliott Whitehead lifted Catalans but Sio's second secured victory.

Only Rovers fans of a certain vintage can remember the last time they made the Challenge Cup final in 1986, let alone when they last won it six years previously, but their supporters can again begin to dream with the side 80 minutes away from a Wembley return.

Sio sprinted in to score to get Rovers going, courtesy of a swift shift right from a Rovers scrum, and Dixon added a second soon after from Tony Puletua's offload.

Kelly went across from a Mantellato offload and the Italy international teamed up with Shaun Lunt to tee up Horne for a fourth.

Inu touched down Whitehead's angled grubber to reduce the arrears and the same combination almost worked again but the England back-rower was deemed to have knocked on in kicking through.

The Catalans - with just one win away from Perpignan this season - showed their fortitude after the break when Taia went over from Henderson's flat ball, and Inu made the most of Tony Gigot's remarkable dummy and grubber kick to score.

Sio crossed in the corner after a sweeping move to the right as Rovers looked comfortable, but tries for Henderson and Whitehead kept the game tight before the hooter finally came, to Rovers' relief.

Hull KR head coach Chris Chester: "We were very dominant that first half, very good defensively and put them under a lot of pressure.

"The second half we were pretty sloppy, we need to be better but the main thing is we are in the draw for the semi-final.

"Let's just enjoy this, it's a tremendous performance from the boys and a fantastic team effort from everybody."

Catalans Dragons head coach Laurent Frayssinous: "We left it too late, the gap was too big.

"I'm pretty proud because the boys tried hard to stay in the game.

"Now we're out we have to try to finish top eight."

On the ruled-out Krisnan Inu try: "I need to see a replay, I had come down to the touchline because there were some quite poor things on the field from a lot of people."

Hull KR: Dixon; Sio, Salter, Welham, Mantellato; Blair, Kelly; Walker, Boudebza, Puletua, Larroyer, Horne, McCarthy

Replacements: Lunt, Donaldson, Greenwood, Tilse

Catalans: Escare; Inu, Gigot, Pomeroy, Yaha; Robin, Dureau; Bousquet, Henderson, Casty, Taia, Whitehead, Baitieri

Replacements: Anderson, Mounis, Pelissier, Garcia

Referee: Phil Bentham

Attendance: 6,073

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