Catalans Dragons continue to showcase the hallmarks of a side to be reckoned with, as a kicking masterclass from Josh Drinkwater helped them to defeat Wakefield Trinity and set up a Challenge Cup quarter-final with Salford.
So often regarded as a side with a weak underbelly since their inception in 2006, perhaps only St Helens have returned from lockdown in as impressive form as the Dragons. A run of almost three hours without conceding a point came to an end here, but Jay Pitts’s two tries for Wakefield never felt enough to worry a Catalans side who look a legitimate threat.
Their form is even more impressive when you consider they have forfeited home advantage numerous times – including in this cup tie – to ensure the season restarts as smoothly as possible. They are spending thousands chartering private planes to fly in and out of England every week; at the moment, it is money well spent for their owner, Bernard Gausch.
This was, at times, a throwback to the days when Wakefield were regular winners of rugby league’s most famous competition. From the horrendous downpour that was reminiscent of the legendary 1968 Watersplash cup final, to the almighty second-half brawl after which Pitts left the field a bloodied mess, this was an enthralling cup tie for the opening hour or so. But Catalans eventually underlined their superiority to book their place in next month’s quarter-finals. A decisive period either side of the hour mark, when they scored three tries in eight minutes, swung the tie in their favour.
Drinkwater’s kicking game was near-faultless all afternoon. It was his well-weighted kick that enabled David Mead to break the deadlock, before a superb chip shortly after found Fouad Yaha unmarked, with Maloney converting both to make it 12-0. At that stage, a repeat of last week’s league result between the sides, when Catalans won 58-0, looked possible.
Wakefield, ravaged by injuries, were much more resilient this time. Their efforts were rewarded when Pitts scythed through to touch down, but an error from Trinity enabled Maloney to kick a penalty and re-establish a two-score lead. Drinkwater then provided another assist, this time for Mead, who claimed his kick to make it 20-6.
Pitts’s second not long into the second half reduced the gap to eight but, after the brawl that resulted in him and Michael McIlorum being sent to the sin-bin, Catalans took control. Within seconds of that flashpoint, Ben Garcia scooted over, before Mead claimed his hat-trick. Drinkwater was involved in both tries, just as he was when he kicked through for Matt Whitley to make it 36-12.
Wakefield’s effort was at least rewarded in the dying embers with tries from Tinirau Arona and Jacob Miller. However, by then Catalans had switched off somewhat, content the job was done. For once, it seems you write off this Dragons side at your peril.
Source: The Guardian |NewsColony