YOU would have thought Hull KR would know by now just what Scott Dureau can do.
The Australian scrum-half was pivotal as Catalan controversially defeated the East Yorkshire club in Perpigan earlier this season and again when they knocked Rovers out of the Challenge Cup here in April.
Yet last night, Dureau was allowed to somehow step up once more to kick a dramatic match-winning 77th minute drop-goal in a game Rovers should never have lost.
Craig Sandercock’s side had shrugged off two serious injuries to seemingly be on course for a fifth successive Super League win.
They lost England ETS international Kris Welham to a suspected broken leg as early as the fifth minute, the 13-try centre slipping with no one near him amid horrendous rain-lashed conditions at Craven Park.
Rhys Lovegrove limped off with an ankle injury early in the second period as well but it did not seem to deter the hosts, who had forged ahead with tries from Castleford-bound Jake Webster, in the Kiwi’s 100th game for the club, and Scott Murrell.
They had bettered shambolic third-placed Catalan in all aspects of the game only to endure a horrendous last five minutes and see all their hard work undone.
Clint Greenshields latched onto a kick to level in the 75th minute and, though Dureau missed the touchline conversion, Rovers somehow allowed him to gain position to slot that 40m drop-goal.
Michael Dobson saw his effort in response charged down and Hull KR were left to rue a glorious chance gone, Dureau rubbing it in with a penalty after the hooter.
Such was Catalan’s ill-discipline, even the great Steve Menzies – rugby league’s Mr Nice – was eventually penalised for dissent.
They had lost to Wigan and Salford previously but took the lead amid controversial circumstances in the 14th minute.
Daryl Millard appeared to knock Dureau’s ‘banana’ kick forward as he rose high to challenge but Greenshields picked up the loose ball regardless and fed Setaimata Sa, who swept over.
Video referee Ian Smith deemed the score was fine much to the bemusement of the Hull KR faithful.
Dureau could not convert but Shannon McDonnell, the Rovers full-back who played for the Exiles last weekend, fumbled a simple downfield kick to invite further pressure.
But that was about all Catalan offered in the first half as their shocking ill-discipline, coupled with equally inept ball control, meant the hosts dominated.
After Catalan conceded a couple of quickfire penalties – it was remarkable Richard Silverwood had not sin-binned any of their contingent by the end of the first period – Hull KR initiated their response.
Typically, Blake Green was the creator, his flighted kick to the right corner wonderfully caught by the diving Jake Webster as the Catalan defence was found ball-watching.
It was the Kiwi three-quarter’s 40th try in his 100th game for the club but, unfortunately, his team-mates could not make their subsequent pressure tell.
Dobson improved the 20th-minute try and Catalan – as is so often the case – threatened to implode with that dodgy ill-discipline, dissent compounding their problems.
Rovers continually probed on the back of that, Dobson’s astute kicking forcing a number of drop-outs, but Sandercock’s side could not add the finishing touch in the greasy conditions.
Charging Ben Galea could not take Dobson’s short pass, Gregory Mounis’s smothering tackle then saw Green spill as he tried to dummy through close to the line.
Dobson himself saw the best chance go awry, Greenshields coughing up his grubber straight at him with the line begging but the Australian scrum-half could not regather. Jamal Fakir just managed to hang on to Con Mika’s ankle before Damien Blanch ripped possession clear of Lovegrove as Catalan somehow survived the barrage.
It took until the 38th minute, when Dureau clearly interfered with Craig Hall, for referee Silverwood to finally speak to Catalan captain Remi Casty about his team’s persistent foul play but there was no card.
Graeme Horne thought he had at last extended Rovers’ lead when he slid over in the 43rd minute from a piercing Green pass but video referee Smith ruled he failed to ground.
A similar pattern then followed in the second period – Catalan making mistake after mistake and the East Yorkshire club unable to capitalise.
They quickly lost Lovegrove meaning Sandercock’s replacement options were severely limited heading into the final quarter as the rain started driving down again.
But, given their own ineffectiveness, it was no surprise that, when Murrell went high on Casty, Dureau opted to kick the easy 50th minute penalty and level the contest.
However, yet another glaring handling error from Catalan offered the gutsy hosts a way back in on the hour mark and this time they took it.
It was Josh Hodgson’s clever slide-rule kick out of dummy-half that caused confusion and Murrell, who had replaced Webster, scrambled to beat Blanch to the bouncing ball.
But it would not be enough.
Hull KR: McDonnell; Webster, Horne, Welham, Hall; Green, Dobson; Taylor, Hodgson, O’Hara, Mika, Galea, Lovegrove. Substitutes: Murrell, Withers, Paea, Netherton.
Catalan: Pryce; Blanch, Duport, Millard, Greenshields; Bosc, Dureau; Ferriol, Henderson, Casty, Menzies, Sa, Baitieri. Substitutes: Mounis, Raguin, Fakir, Fisher.
Referee: Richard Silverwood (Mirfield).