Super League: Elliott Whitehead hat-trick helps Dragons dominate
By Rob Lancaster. Last Updated: 12/04/14 5:20pm
Elliott Whitehead helped himself to a hat-trick of tries as Catalan Dragons torched Widnes 42-20 in the Perpignan sunshine on Saturday.
Super League's French representatives simply proved too strong for the Vikings, the final scoreline not doing the home side's dominance justice as they managed to convert just three of their nine attempts at goal.
Ben Pomeroy and Vincent Duport touched down twice each as the Dragons made it two wins on the spin in front of their own fans, following their 30-14 triumph over Huddersfield Giants in the last round of the competition.
Having beaten London Broncos in the Tetley's Challenge Cup in between, things are looking brighter for Les Catalans after a dismal start to the season that led to drastic measures being taken - the squad were summoned back to France following a heavy loss at Wakefield last month, with long-serving prop Jamal Fakir released soon after.
The fact they began the campaign with four away trips in the first five rounds of 2014 suggested it was always going to be a tough start for coach Laurent Frayssinous and his squad. Home advantage, therefore, was going to be crucial.
They looked far more comfortable on their own patch, breaking the deadlock through Pomeroy inside six minutes before adding further tries through Whitehead and Morgan Escare, who finished off a fine break by Daryl Millard, to ease into a 14-0 lead in the first quarter.
The Vikings responded with a try from each from their wingers, Paddy Flynn touching down in the right corner and then Jack Owens scoring in the other when he got on the end of Kevin Brown's clever kick.
Whitehead's second made it 18-10 to the Dragons at the break, and they blew the game wide open with three more tries in a 15-minute period.
Duport dived in at the right corner after a series of offloads and Pomeroy powered his way through a tiring defensive line to complete his brace, though fellow centre Millard was denied a try down the left due to a foot in touch.
Whitehead completed his treble by swooping on a dropped Widnes pass on halfway to gallop away for the seventh try in an already productive campaign for the former Bradford Bull.
Another for Duport put the game beyond the Vikings, meaning late efforts from Lloyd White and Owens did nothing more than ease the final margin of defeat.
To make matters worse for coach Denis Betts, Declan Hulme had to be helped off the field with an ankle problem, giving him another injury to deal with ahead of a busy Easter period that begins with a trip to Warrington on Good Friday.
The Dragons, in contrast, will be full of confidence ahead of Thursday's trip to the Broncos; Millard grabbed their final try, the centre opting to cut inside off the left flank and power his way over rather than risk tip-toeing inside the whitewash again.