Super League: Catalans Dragons thwart Salford revival to win in Perpignan

Former Widnes forward Matt Whitley scored his first tries for Catalans since August 2019
Former Widnes forward Matt Whitley scored his first tries for Catalans since August 2019
Betfred Super League
Catalans (18) 30
Tries: Whitley 2, McIlorum, Yaha, Tierney
Goals: Maloney 4
Salford (0) 14
Tries: Sio 2, Evalds
Goals: Lolohea, Sio

Catalans Dragons kept their heads to win in Perpignan with two late touchdowns after allowing Salford to come from 18-0 down at half-time.

Two first-half tries from Matt Whitley to add to an early score from Wigan old boy Michael McIlorum earned the Dragons a comfortable half-time cushion.

Full-back Niall Evalds crossed, and two tries for winger Ken Sio brought Salford to within a score at 20-14.

But Fouad Yaha and Lewis Tierney came up with match-clinching late tries.

Catalans, who lost two games earlier this season in a weather-hit start, have now won three times in four Super League matches - enough to lift them to sixth, within two points of four-way leaders Leeds Rhinos, Wigan, Castleford and Huddersfield.

Wigan will be the first to reach the 10-point mark this season if they win at home to strugglers Hull KR on Sunday.

Salford, Grand Final runners-up last October, drop a place to 11th, below Hull KR, having now won just one of their first six matches this season.

Salford won in France almost a year ago to the day, igniting a memorable season when they ran in eight tries in a stunning 46-0 victory - but it did not take long for any hopes of a repeat dispelled against a home side inspired by Australian stand-off James Maloney.

McIlorum opened the scoring with a short-range try from dummy-half and Maloney, who added the conversion, then put the Dragons further ahead with a penalty before Whitley broke his duck for the season by crossing twice in four minutes.

Salford, who were without the injured Dan Sarginson but had Kevin Brown back after suspension, hit back with a dazzling solo run from full-back Evalds who stepped around Sam Tomkins to score on the right.

As well as Tomkins earning 10 minutes in the sin bin, Lolohea added the extras, then Sio offered further hope with a clever touchdown in the right corner.

After Maloney's third penalty made it 20-10 with 20 minutes to go, Tomkins' fumble allowed Sio to add his second, taking him to six for the season, one behind the league's top scorer, Hull KR's Ben Crooks.

But Lolohea failed to convert and another of the Dragons' Wigan old boys Tierney struck the killer blow on 74 minutes with a dazzling midfield dash to set up Yaha's fourth try in five games before scoring himself after good work from Israel Folau, rounded off by Maloney's conversion.

Dragons coach Steve McNamara:

"It was a scruffy game in tough conditions but I was very pleased with how we reacted and that aspect of the game.

"The wind was a big factor. It was huge and Salford started to play at a faster speed than what we were prepared to defend at. We got on the back foot and ost momentum.

"We saw last week when momentum swings in a game it's difficult to stop. Hull couldn't stop ours and that bit I am pleased with. We were on the back foot when Salford were coming back at us and we managed to stop the rot.

"Defensively, Israel Folau is going really well. It was nice to see him put Lewis away for a try with a flick pass but it's very early days."

Salford head coach Ian Watson:

"We didn't build enough pressure in the first half and didn't complete our sets or turn over on our terms. But we defended really well for large chunks of that first half.

"I know what our team is capable of and that was a big step forward, especially in terms of effort and attitude from the week before.

"It's been pretty difficult because one player comes in then one drops out. We lost Sarge in training but I was really confident that Elliot Kear wouldn't let us down, he always gives 110 per cent.

"But the boys are understanding what we're about now and, with Kev Brown back, he gave us a bit more organisation and control but we need the right field position for him to be effective."

Catalans: S Tomkins; Tierney, Langi, Folau, Yaha; Maloney, Drinkwater; Casty, McIlorum, Bousquet, Whitley, Jullien, Garcia.

Interchanges: Seguier, Maria, Baitieri, Kasiano.

Sin bin: Tomkins (44).

Salford: Evalds; Sio, Welham, Kear, Williams; Lolohea, Brown; Mossop, Lussick, Dudson, Lannon, Roberts, Flanagan.

Interchanges: Pauli, Yates, Ikahihifo, McCarthy.

Attendance: 7,904.

Referee: Chris Kendal.

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