Catalans Dragons 10 Hull FC 50: Airlie Birds build timely momentum for derby battle

LEE RADFORD’S Airlie Birds will head into Thursday’s derby with Hull KR on a high after a demolition job on Catalans Dragons in Perpignan.

Blanket defence: Catalans captain Rémi Casty about to be tackled by Hull's Marc Sneyd and Josh Griffin. Picture: Laurent Selles.
Blanket defence: Catalans captain Rémi Casty about to be tackled by Hull's Marc Sneyd and Josh Griffin. Picture: Laurent Selles.

A series of long-range tries and a ferocious defensive stint turned Stade Gilbert Brutus into Le Boulevard as almost 2,000 travelling supporters lapped up a red-hot display of sunshine rugby.

Hull secured third position in Super League after winning four in a row and will face their city rivals Rovers with confidence this week.

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Radford is hoping for a repeat performance.

“Hopefully, the weather is the same in sunny Hull on Thursday night as it was here in France and we can play a good tough brand of footy,” said the coach. “We’re playing against a side that’s going to be scrapping on Thursday as they are obviously in a red-hot relegation battle.

“We went there in round one and lost in an incredibly frustrating manner so we know what to expect.

“But we’ve got some momentum now. I was really pleased with our performance here. Catalans came out early on with all guns blazing and had us on the ropes for a while, but we landed a couple of sucker-punches from distance and that seemed to break their spirits.

“For that first 15 minutes, it was all Catalans so to come out the other end with such a convincing win was really pleasing.

“We knew we would come up against a physical side but we landed some real cute blows from distance which helped us.

“We’ve got some blokes in good form at the minute and we want to continue that.”

Radford was full of praise for the travelling fans.

“Just driving up to the stadium today, the amount of blue, black and white shirts was phenomenal. I’m really glad that we scored some tries that got them off their seats. When they are off their seats and making some noise it has an influence on us.”

There were no smiles for furious Catalans coach Steve McNamara, who said his team needed to toughen up mentally after a four-game losing streak.

“I’m really angry,” said the Dragons chief. “I thought we got off to a fantastic start and showed some real intent. But when some things went against us we just stopped.

“I thought we looked a good team early on, really connected in attack and defence. But when David Mead lost the ball over the line it affected us more than the four points we lost, it affected us mentally.

“We didn’t see the ball in the second half. It’s a mental problem, not a physical one. Physically, there’s hardly anything between the teams in Super League.

“You put everybody in the gym and on the field and everybody will test practically the same.

“The difference is between the ears and right now, mentally, we’re not strong enough.”

The Dragons struck first with an early try for Sam Tomkins but Albert Kelly crossed for Hull following good work from Fijian winger Ratu Naulago.

Marc Sneyd converted the first of his nine from nine goals and added a penalty to put the visitors ahead.

Kelly created space for loose-forward Joe Westerman to score but Catalans hit back with a try from Lewis Tierney on the half-hour.

It was to be the home side’s final points as Hull took command with two tries before half-time – Andre Savelio chalking his first for the club and second-row Josh Griffin making it 26-10.

Centre Kieran Buchanan scored his first Super League try just after the break then Naulago scored the try of the match with a 90 metre run from behind the Hull line.

Griffin’s graft paid off in the 60th minute with his second try thanks to a classy off-load from Jake Connor and full-back Jamie Shaul completed the rout 13 minutes from the end.

Catalans Dragons: Mead, Wiliame, Tierney, Langi, Smith, Casty, McIlorum, Moa, Garcia, Bousquet, Jullien, Tomkins, Yaha. Substitutes: Simon, Goudemand, Mrai, Kasiano.

Hull FC: Shaul, Naulago, Connor, Buchanan, Faraimo, Kelly, Sneyd, Green, Houghton, Paea, Manu, Griffin, Westerman. Substitutes: Bowden, Fash, Savelio, Taylor.

Referee: R Hicks (RFL).