THAT victory at Leeds Rhinos certainly seems a long time ago now for woeful Hull KR.
Less than a week after winning at the champions so impressively, James Webster’s side were embarrassed 40-0 at home by Catalans Dragons last night.
Granted, the French side –who have now won four successive away games for the first time since 2011 and rise up to second – were excellent with a ruthless performance that suggests, more than ever, they may finally be genuine Super League title contenders.
Nevertheless, Rovers, for all their continued injury problems, were abysmal for the majority of a thoroughly sobering encounter.
There was little, if any, of the desire and enthusiasm on show at Headingley and, with Catalans scrum-half Richie Myler giving a kicking masterclass that proves he has developed markedly since leaving Warrington for Perpignan, they were utterly outplayed.
To rub salt into the wound, even Willie Mason, the always-controversial Australian who had a brief and flimsy spell at Craven Park five years ago, was allowed to rumble over in the second half despite three tacklers hanging off the veteran prop.
Rovers were on the back foot from the off and the only time they touched the ball in the opening 11 minutes, other than to three times kick-off, was when Kieran Dixon went to gather Myler’s routine kick close to his own line.
However, even then, the KR winger fumbled it under no pressure and gifted the visitors another set.
Soon after, Dixon was caught behind his own goalline following another precise grubber and his side had to launch the first of three first-half drop-outs.
They held out there, though, to come away just 10-0 down from a brutal opening battering, Jodie Broughton - after Myler’s 40/20 in the opening set - and Vincent Duport - when Rovers sailed the restart into touch - claiming star-studded Catalans’ tries.
Such was their initial endeavour at getting back into the contest, though, that Catalans were actually given a team warning by referee Richard Silverwood following a succession of penalties.
Yet there is always a point where such games escape the side destined to lose and this came around the 20-minute mark.
Tony Gigot, the French full-back, spilled a towering Rovers kick only to see two Rovers players – Mitch Allgood and James Greenwood – both fail to pick up the pieces with a try begging.
The hosts got another chance and then a third when Krisnan Inu only got his fingertips to Maurice Blair’s long pass when trying to intercept, offering up another six tackles.
However, again there was no finish for Webster’s side. Instead, Matty Marsh’s ineffective kick bounced straight at Myler who juggled and then raced clear.
Marsh, to his credit, chased him down but a few moments later, Glenn Stewart swatted aside Chris Clarkson and Inu unleashed Broughton who raced in for his second from halfway.
With Richards’ conversion, Rovers were staring at a 16-0 scoreline and already that looked insurmountable. Greenwood – the prop playing second-row as coach Webster looked to meet fire with fire – did barrell through soon after and seemed destined to score.
However, Gigot produced a remarkable tackle on his own line that saw the forward lose possession.
Ben Cockyane regathered to score, Silverwood awarding the try but video referee Ben Thaler overruled him saying Greenwood had fumbled forward; it was marginal but probably correct. Again, moments later, Catalans doubled the misery, Myler launching another high kick that had Dixon all in a dither, the winger failing to even get off the ground as Krisnan Inu sneaked in and stole the falling ball from under his nose.
There was a touch of fortune when Julian Bousquet’s squeezed offload bounced off Gregory Mounis knee for him to score next but there was no doubting Catalans were a class apart here as Richards sent them in 28-0 ahead. Simply awful defence saw Myler dummy over from acting-half early in the second period.
Then, after Cockayne was yellow-carded for a professional foul on Gigot following another fine break from Broughton – the winger who is excelling since leaving Huddersfield Giants last winter – Mason got his score.
Things got so bad for Rovers that even Maurice Blair, a beacon of light for them at times this season, got dragged down, sending a fourth drop-out direct into touch.
As Catalans secured their biggest ever away win in Super League, Rovers lost Marsh to a suspected concussion to add to their selection woe.
At least they should have chance to restore confidence next Saturday – part-timers Oldham are at Craven Park in the Challenge Cup.
Hull KR: Cockayne; Sio, Minns, Thornley, Dixon; Blair, Marsh; Mulhern, Lawler, Tilse, Clarkson, Greenwood, Allgood. Substitutes: Lunt, Green, Moran, Walker.
Catalans Dragons: Gigot; Broughton, Inu, Duport, Richards; Bosc, Myler; Taylor, Pelissier, Mason, Stewart, Anderson, Baitieri. Substitutes: Bousquet, Mounis, Elima, Robin.
Referee: Richard Silverwood (RFL).