Hull KR 8 Catalans Dragons 20: Improved performance but another defeat for Rovers

Over the course of the past month, Hull KR have discovered just how fickle form can be.

Hull KR get to grips with Tom Davies. (Picture: SWPix.com)
Hull KR get to grips with Tom Davies. (Picture: SWPix.com)

The Robins occupied a top-four place on the back of six straight wins but a perfect storm has enveloped Craven Park in recent weeks.

Whether it is the manner of Tony Smith's departure announcement, injuries or fatigue, KR's form has fallen off a cliff.

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There were flickers of life as they took the game to Catalans Dragons, opening up an 8-0 lead inside 10 minutes after ending their Super League try drought through Ben Crooks.

Hull KR celebrate Ben Crooks' try. (Picture: SWPix.com)

But when the French side upped the intensity in the second half, Rovers could not go with them - a theme of the 2021 season when they lost all four meetings.

A fourth straight defeat leaves the Robins outside the play-off positions at the halfway point of this campaign, although they can take comfort from the lack of consistency elsewhere in Super League.

An improved performance gives Smith something to work with heading into the two-week break, a timely opportunity for Rovers to regroup.

As the dust settles on the Catalans clash, Hull KR will reflect on one that got away.

Tom Davies touches down in the corner. (Picture: SWPix.com)

After three tough outings on the road, it was a welcome return to Craven Park for the Robins.

A different beast in front of their own fans, the energy and enthusiasm that was lacking at Castleford Tigers was evident in the early stages.

Rovers were guilty of playing with scrambled brains last week but they displayed clarity of thought to take control of the contest.

Rowan Milnes was the man pulling the strings and he laid on the opening try, sending a hanging kick towards the posts which was plucked out of the air and finished by Crooks to give KR their first Super League try since April 23.

Lachlan Coote added the extras and Rovers had a platform for the first time in weeks.

As Hull KR ripped into Catalans and celebrated every mistake with gusto, there was a sense they were sending a message to those who had claimed they were not playing for Smith.

The Robins were on the front foot but they took the chance to slow the game down and keep the scoreboard ticking over when the Dragons were penalised for offside, Coote knocking over a straightforward penalty to extend the lead.

The full-back went close as Rovers kept the ball alive on the last in thrilling fashion, a hint that they were rediscovering their mojo.

But they became ragged and were guilty of overplaying, allowing Catalans to gain a foothold in the game.

The Dragons had barely threatened in the opening quarter but they took the first chance that came their way.

Milnes failed to deal with Tyrone May and could only watch as Tom Davies finished acrobatically in the corner.

Sam Tomkins missed his touchline conversion but KR's lead was a precarious one given recent results.

Sam Kasiano was introduced by Steve McNamara and he quickly set about making life uncomfortable for Rovers' middles with his size and offloading game.

The Robins continued to carve out the better opportunities, though, going agonisingly close on the stroke of half-time when Crooks lost his footing racing for the line.

KR held a deserved 8-4 lead at the break but it quickly unravelled in the early stages of the second half.

The turning point came in the 43rd minute with Rovers attacking the Catalans line, Mathieu Laguerre picking off a pass from Will Dagger to go the length of the field.

Arthur Mourgue took over the kicking duties and made no mistake from the sideline to put the Dragons in front for the first time.

Catalans went on to dominate field position and landed a killer blow when Fouad Yaha trumped Davies' flying finish after taking a superb cut-out pass from Tomkins.

Mourgue landed another impressive conversion and then added a penalty to give the Dragons a commanding 18-8 lead heading into the final quarter.

The frustration inside Craven Park was palpable as the game slipped away from the Robins with referee Tom Grant bearing the brunt of it.

The award of another penalty was greeted by a chorus of boos and it was the same result as Mourgue added another two points for the visitors.

Rovers needed to channel the spirit of Headingley 2021 to force the match to extra time but a comeback was never on the cards against the ever-improving Dragons.

Hull KR: Coote, Ryan, Crooks, Kenny-Dowall, Hall, Milnes, Dagger, Maher, Litten, King, Hadley, Johnson, Minchella.

Substitutes: Vete, Storton, Keinhorst, Halton.

Catalans Dragons: Tomkins, Davies, May, Laguerre, Yaha, Mourgue, Pearce, Napa, McIlorum, Bousquet, Whitley, Jullien, Garcia.

Substitutes: Dudson, Goudemand, Dezaria, Kasiano.

Referee: Tom Grant.