Castleford Tigers could not back up their win over Wakefield Trinity as they went down to a 37-16 defeat away to Catalans Dragons and slipped down to fourth place in the Betfred Super League.
It was a struggle for much of the contest for a Tigers team without eight first teamers before they travelled to France then who lost Nathan Massey just before the game and skipper Michael Shenton during the second half.
They showed some spirit in the second half to keep the game close, but a couple of late tries finally emphasised the Dragons’ superiority.
Cas started sluggishly and struggled to make any early headway. Their hopes of keeping their hosts at bay were not helped when Catalans were given a controversial and very handy penalty by referee James Child after they had only made it to half-way in their first five tackles.
From the next set they rumbled to close to the Tigers line and Julian Bousquet barged over from close range for the opening try, which was converted by Sam Tomkins.
On the next set Remi Casty was held up over the line with Cas surviving further pressure.
Both sides were then guilty of making errors and the penalty count rose with Child seemingly eager to blow his whistle at every opportunity.
Catalans created another opportunity on 23 minutes and took it as Tony Gigot took Matt Whitley’s offload to go over from close range. With Tomkins goaling it was 12-0 and beginning to look like a long evening for the Tigers.
They did gradually work their way into the contest, however, and showed what they could do when they worked the ball well wide on the left and Michael Shenton’s pass gave Greg Eden a chance to attack the home line. He went close, but was tackled into touch.
Another good move saw the ball kept alive through several phases only for the attack to end with Jake Trueman’s kick being collected by Gigot.
After a succession of penalties the Tigers finally put some points on the board just before half-time when Eden collected Paul McShane’s well judged grubber kick to touch the ball down. With Mata’utia unable to add the conversion it was 12-4 at the break.
Cas started the second half well, but a big moment came when Shenton backed up Junior Moors’ break and looked certain to score only to be rolled over in an incredible try saving tackle by David Mead.
Moments later Mead was in attack and put a kick in from his wing position. James Clare covered well only to have the ball taken off him by Greg Bird who promptly put the ball down for a killer try. Tomkins’ goal made it 18-4.
Gigot added a drop-goal to stretch the Dragons’ lead further and the Tigers’ dreadful run of luck with injuries continued as skipper Shenton had to leave the field.
Another home try piled on more misery for the visitors as Bousquet took Sam Kasiano’s pass to score from close range and Tomkins kicked his fourth goal.
There was some relief from Mata’utia’s short restart as Catalans tapped back towards their own line and Eden pounced on the loose ball then had the pace to race over for his second try to which Mata’utia added the goal.
It got even better for Cas seven minutes later after they forced a goalline drop-out then scored a third try as Cory Aston backed up Greg Minikin’s classy break and pass inside.
Mata’utia goaled, but Catalans were over again soon after to make sure of no comeback worries, Whitley taking Tomkins’ offload to score a try that was converted again by Tomkins.
The roles were reversed soon after with Tomkins collecting Whitley’s offload to go over for the final score.
Scorers - Catalans: Tries Bousquet 2, Gigot, Bird, Whitley, Tomkins; goals Tomkins 6; drop-goal Gigot. Castleford: Tries Eden 2, Aston; goals Mata’utia 2.
Catalans Dragons: Gigot; Mead, Langi, Williame, Tierney; Bird, Tomkins; Bousquet, Da Costa, Moa, Baitieri, Whitley, Casty. Subs: Simon, Goudemand, Kasiano, Edwards.
Castleford Tigers: Mata’utia; Clare, Minikin, Shenton, Eden, Trueman, Aston; Watts, McShane, Smith, Moors, McMeeken, Milner. Subs: Clark. Maher, Peachey, Clarkson.
Referee: James Child